Chinese state media confirmed on Friday that the coronavirus, spreading from the city of Wuhan, has now infected 29 of China’s 31 provinces, a concession critics will likely take as confirmation that the Chinese government has not been honest about how rapidly the disease is spreading.
Chinese citizens living in the outbreak area describe a health care system completely overwhelmed by coronavirus cases, with hospitals so overcrowded that patients are sent home and told to wait days for treatment.
Gottlieb noted that while cases of Wuhan virus have appeared in other countries, including the United States, the infection does not appear to be spreading anywhere but China.
CNBC quoted other experts who said the apparently rapid spread of the virus might actually be due to better testing methods detecting infected persons more quickly than with SARS, creating the appearance of a disease spreading more rapidly when it is actually being detected and treated more swiftly.
Also, while severe illnesses and deaths from a viral outbreak are always alarming, the Wuhan virus appears to have a lower mortality rate than the “regular flu” and its associated secondary infections, assuming the Chinese government has not radically understated the number of infections and fatalities.