Zhong Nanshan, a top Chinese virologist well known for his role in fighting against the SARS outbreak some 17 years ago, says coronavirus will reach its peak in February.
That is three months earlier than the forecast of Gabriel Leung, the dean of medicine at the Hong Kong University (HKU), who foresees the outbreak hitting its full capacity in May.
According to the latest update from the New York Times, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in China have hit 42,000.
On February 5, Primitive Crypto founding partner Dovey Wan revealed a report from Beijing-based mainstream publication Caixin was modified to remove the number of beds contained in 11 venues in Wuhan that have been turned into hospitals.
Various footage taken by citizen journalists in China released on platforms like Twitter seemingly show the Chinese police taking extreme measures such as welding apartment doors shut to prevent the coronavirus outbreak expanding.
Balaji Srinivasan, a venture capital investor and chemical engineer acknowledged by the MIT, who has been actively covering updates on coronavirus, suggested that the intensity of pollution in China could have contributed to the worsening of the outbreak.
Fears towards the ability of coronavirus to spread have noticeably increased when recent reports indicated the virus is easily transmissible airborne.
CNN reported that a Hong Kong apartment was partially shut down after the authorities discovered that coronavirus had spread through pipes within the apartment building.
The pace in which the virus is spreading and the Chinese government is rushing to build new facilities equipped with tens of thousands of beds indicate real numbers can be significantly higher.
Earlier this week, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) employed a new model to predict 500,000 people can be infected with coronavirus in Wuhan alone.
The forecasts of many high profile institutions including LSHTM and HKU show potential infections of up to half a million, with Leung’s model considering the possibility of the virus infecting more than 100,000 individuals per day.
There are concerns that the Chinese government is trying to lower the official numbers of coronavirus being raised by journalists who have covered China for a long time.
Muyi Xiao, the visuals editor at ChinaFile, said that the hashtag “I want freedom of speech” is spreading fast in China.
“It’s 5 am in China right now, but many people did not sleep tonight — hashtag ‘I want freedom of speech’ started to trend on Weibo from 1 am and now has nearly 2 million views.”
Political commentators have said that the coronavirus outbreak can be the ultimate test for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his authority over the party.
Some analysts have described the outbreak as a “stress test” for President Xi, as the majority of the Chinese population’s dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of the outbreak grows.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.