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Coronavirus Could End Up Infecting Over Half Of World’s Population

A top public health official in Hong Kong has warned the coronavirus epidemic could quickly turn into a pandemic and infect two-thirds of the world’s population if it is not controlled.

In an interview with The Guardian, Professor Gabriel Leung, chair of public health medicine at Hong Kong University, said he has been examining the implications of an announcement made by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday regarding cases of the deadly virus spreading outside of China.

“Each person infected can go on to transmit the coronavirus to 2.5 other people β€” creating an ‘attack rate’ of 60 to 80 percent,” Leung explained.

“Sixty percent of the world’s population is an awfully big number,” he continued.

“Even with a general fatality rate as low as 1 percent β€” a possibility once milder cases are taken into account β€” there could still be a massive global death toll.”

John Hopkins COVID-19 Map Global Cases
An online dashboard built by John Hopkins CSSE to track the 2019-nCoV coronavirus outbreak. (Screenshot generated on 2/12/2020)

Medical experts are currently researching whether restrictions put in place in disease epicenters, such as the city of Wuhan, have made a positive impact on preventing the virus from spreading even further, reports the New York Post.

“Have these massive public health interventions, social distancing, and mobility restrictions worked in China?” Leung asked. “If so, how can we roll them out, or is it not possible?”

As of the posting of this article, 1,118 people have died of the coronavirus in China with over 45,000 cases reported worldwide.

Main Image Credit: Yonhap News / Zuma Press

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