Expert: Virus Outbreak May Reach Peak in 1 Week or About 10 Days

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak may reach its peak in one week or around 10 days, renowned Chinese respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said Tuesday.

Zhong Nanshan

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak may reach its peak in one week or around 10 days, renowned Chinese respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

"It is very difficult to definitely estimate when the outbreak reaches its peak. But I think in one week or about 10 days, it will reach the climax and then there will be no large-scale increases," Zhong said.

Zhong is the head of a national team of experts set up for the control and prevention of the novel coronavirus-caused pneumonia and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

"There are two keys to tackling the epidemic: early detection and early isolation. They are the most primitive and most effective methods," he said.

Zhong said fever and weakness are the typical symptoms of the novel coronavirus infection for the majority of patients.

Ten to 14 days is a sound period for isolation and observation: When the incubation period ends, those who fall sick will get timely treatment and those who do not will be just fine.

He suggested that hospitals should be staffed with not only infectious disease specialists, but also specialists in treating severe cases to better save patients.

Wuhan, the provincial capital, is the center of the outbreak.

Epidemiologically, the novel coronavirus is homologous to the virus discovered in a type of bat in 2017, said Zhong, adding that the 2019-nCoV probably has an intermediate host that may be a certain kind of wild animal.

"The SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak lasted about six months, but I don't believe the novel coronavirus outbreak would last that long," said Zhong.

The country has taken a series of powerful measures, especially early detection and early isolation. "We have sufficient confidence in preventing a major outbreak or a recurrence as long as the two measures are in place, although we still need to conduct much scientific research," he said.

Noting that a key for Wuhan is how to reduce infections inside hospitals, Zhong said he supported the construction of makeshift hospitals in the city to control the infectious disease.

Zhong said the activation of top-level public health emergency response was aimed at reducing the chance of infection.

The vaccine development may need three to four months or even longer, said Zhong. "Now scientists are speeding up research of neutralizing antibodies of the virus, but it takes time."

"With help from across the country, Wuhan, a heroic city, will pull through," Zhong said. 

Source: Xinhua

Editor: Crystal H