Even as China takes more stringent measures to limit the movement of the vast country’s population during the biggest travel period of the year, there are increasing fears that the quarantine will not be enough to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, which so far has infected at least 2,800 people in China and killed 81. Here’s what we know:
● With 81 dead so far, Beijing has broadened the extraordinary quarantine to more than 50 million people, but the mayor of Wuhan, the outbreak’s epicenter, said 5 million people have already left his city.
● Wuhan’s mayor admitted that the city did not release information about the virus in a timely manner but hinted that it was prevented from doing so by central authorities.
● China’s health minister said the coronavirus is increasing in virulence and now could be contagious even before people exhibit symptoms, making apparently healthy people possible carriers.
● A scientific assessment of the spread of the disease, assuming an optimistic 90 percent quarantine, still predicted more than 59,000 infections and 1,500 deaths — twice the toll of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak.
● In the United States, health officials confirmed five cases of the pneumonia-like illness, while infections also have been confirmed in France, South Korea, Japan, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan and Canada.