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Home / World News / Coronavirus outbreak could peak in 10 days, says top Chinese health expert

Coronavirus outbreak could peak in 10 days, says top Chinese health expert

Zhong Nanshan was the first to confirm last week during an interview with China Central Television that the new coronavirus can be transmitted between humans.

world Updated: Jan 29, 2020 10:12 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert and head of the health commission team investigating the outbreak of the new coronavirus, visits the Jinyintan hospital, where the patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China January 19, 2020.
Zhong Nanshan, a respiratory expert and head of the health commission team investigating the outbreak of the new coronavirus, visits the Jinyintan hospital, where the patients with pneumonia caused by the new strain of coronavirus are being treated, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China January 19, 2020. (REUTERS)

The spread of the novel Coronavirus could reach its peak in a week to 10 days, a leading Chinese respiratory expert heading Beijing’s efforts to contain the outbreak has told state media.

After seven to 10 days the number of cases could plateau, Zhong Nanshan who is heading the national team of experts set up to control and prevent the outbreak told official news agency, Xinhua.

“The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak (2002-03) lasted about six months, but I don’t believe the novel coronavirus outbreak would last that long,” said Zhong.

Zhong, 84, was the first to confirm last week during an interview with China Central Television that the new coronavirus can be transmitted between humans.

Zhong, however, agreed that it was difficult to “definitely” estimate the peak.

“It is very difficult to definitely estimate when the outbreak reaches its peak. But I think in one week or about 10 days, it will reach the climax and then there will be no large-scale increases,” Zhong said.

Earlier this week, President Xi Jinping, who has called the Coronavirus “a demon”, said the outbreak was accelerating.

Experts expect a sharp rise in numbers as Chinese citizens begin the journey back to their places of work at the end of the ongoing Lunar New Year (LNY) holidays, which were extended until February 2.

The reason behind extending the holidays was to expand the window to isolate the virus when a less number of people would be travelling during the LNY holidays.

“There are two keys to tackling the epidemic: early detection and early isolation. They are the most primitive and most effective methods,” Zhong said.

Zhong said fever and weakness are the typical symptoms of the novel coronavirus infection for the majority of patients.

“Ten to 14 days is a sound period for isolation and observation: When the incubation period ends, those who fall sick will get timely treatment and those who do not will be just fine,” he told Xinhua.

Developing the vaccine may need three to four months or even longer, said Zhong. “Now scientists are speeding up research of neutralizing antibodies of the virus, but it takes time,” he said.

According to state-run China Daily newspaper, Zhong played a huge role in discovering the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus in 2003, and he managed the SARS outbreak in Guangdong province at the time. He was dubbed the “SARS hero”, and his efforts made him a household name across the country.