More coronavirus cases in Thailand; death toll spikes in China

Seven new cases of coronavirus were found in Thailand over the weekend bringing the total number of cases to 32, according to official statistics.

The Ministry of Public Health said that as of Sunday night, 395 patients were being monitored and quarantined in hospitals around the country for possible signs of infections.

Despite the rise in the number of confirmed cases, Thailand was no longer the country with the most number of confirmed cases outside of China. Japan, Hong Kong, and Singapore have all surpassed Thailand as multiple cases were reported in those respective countries in the last 48 hours.

Sharp spike in China

According to Chinese state media statistics, the death toll in China surpassed the SARS epidemic of two decades prior with 908 deaths as of Sunday night.

The spike in numbers took worldwide observers by surprise as Friday’s confirmed death toll was just slightly under 500 deaths.

The number of confirmed cases also increased to over 40,000 confirmed cases, with over 6,000 of the cases marked as severe.

Pandemic modeling

The rise in numbers are in line with predictions made in a research paper published in the peer-reviewed journal The Lancet. According to the findings, numbers are likely to spike even further unless authorities take more decisive actions.

“In the absence of substantial public health interventions that are immediately applied, further international seeding and subsequent local establishment of epidemics might become inevitable,” said the report.

“On the present trajectory, 2019-nCoV could be about to become a global epidemic in the absence of mitigation.” 

The report also argues that massive quarantine programmes by the Chinese are unlikely to be effective.

“Our simulation suggested that wholesale quarantine of population movement in Greater Wuhan would have had a negligible effect on the forward trajectories of the epidemic because multiple major Chinese cities had already been seeded with more than dozens of infections.” 

The report suggests that stopping short of even more draconian methods of limiting population contact, the smartest course of action would be to grant public access to more information.

“The overriding epidemiological priority to inform public health control would be to compile and release a line list of suspected, possible, probable, and confirmed cases and close contacts that is updated daily and linked to clinical outcomes and laboratory test results,” said the report.  

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