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  • Lan Xue, Li Xin, Longmei Zhang

Everything you need to know about the coronavirus


  • As of 18 February 2020, the total number of confirmed cases was 72,530 with a further 6,242 suspected cases.

  • The novel nature of the coronavirus meant regional health experts and local government authorities were not fully aware of the potential risks to public health until it was very late.

  • Estimates suggest the impact on annual global GDP could reach -0.1%. In Asia, the growth impact will be larger, reflecting its closer trade integration with China and heavy reliance on Chinese tourism.

At the beginning of 2020, the novel coronavirus forced the Chinese government to issue the largest quarantine order in human history, affecting an estimated 45 million people.

Experts from the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council have been observing the situation from different industries and perspectives. Here are their insights on its impact:

Q. What is the current situation in Wuhan, Hubei province and the rest of China?

As of 18 February 2020, the total number of confirmed cases was 74,578 with a further 4,922 suspected cases, according to China’s National Health Commission. Chinese authorities have provided daily updates on the numbers.

On 12 February, the number of new cases spiked in Hubei province with an additional 242 deaths and 14,840 newly confirmed cases owing to the fact that the formal definition of confirmed cases has been extended to also include “clinically diagnosed” cases – 13,332 of the new cases fell under that classification.

Limited knowledge of the virus means medical professionals and policymakers have to adjust the test, treatment measures and diagnosis criteria on a regular basis. Consequently, obtaining an estimate of the total number of people infected is difficult at the current stage. The World Health Organization has said it is “way too early” to predict its end.

The lack of testing kits is another factor, coupled with concerns regarding accuracy in the testing process. Health experts expect that for patients with the disease only 30-50% would test positive in a nucleic acid test which has been the crucial test used to confirm new cases.

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