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Scientists: 500,000 may become infected with coronavirus in Wuhan in coming weeks

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At least 500,000 people may become infected with coronavirus in Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the deadly  outbreak — by the time the number of cases peaks within the coming weeks, a new report suggests. 

The disease has killed more than 1,000 people and infected over 42,000. So far, cases have been reported in at least 25 other countries. A large majority of the deaths have occurred in the Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital.

Scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, a public research center in Camden, put together a mathematical model in order to estimate the transmission of the virus in Wuhan. 

According to their analysis, the disease is likely to peak in mid-to-late-February, though there is still uncertainty around when and how extensive the peak may be. Researchers have based their predictions on assumptions about the virus, including that the standard incubation period is 5.2 days and that the population of Wuhan at risk was roughly 10 million people. 

Adam Kucharski, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the research center, told Bloomberg that based on current data, the disease is likely to have a "peak prevalence" of 5% of the Wuhan population.

According to Kucharski, this could translate to at least one out out of every 20 people in the city being infected by the time the virus peaks, or about 500,000 people. 

As of Sunday night, the Hubei government estimated that there have been a total of 29,631 cases of the virus in Hubei province, including 16,902 in Wuhan. The government estimated the fatality rate for the disease in Wuhan City was roughly 4%, as of Sunday. 

Chinese authorities have quarantined Wuhan and about 15 other Chinese cities in order to curb the spread of disease, leading to a lockdown on an estimated 60 million people. Both the death toll and the number of infected patients now exceed those of the 2003 SARS outbreak.

The World Health Organization last month declared the outbreak a public-health emergency, and Chinese President Xi Jinping said the virus poses a "grave threat."
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