A woman who claimed to be a nurse in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV), revealed that the pathogen has infected 90,000 individuals right before the Lunar New Year.
That number is far more from the official count of about 2,800 cases from Monday, Beijing time.
The woman, now regarded as a “whistleblower,” wore a face mask and a protective suit as she filmed herself in an unverified video urging the public to stay at home for the Lunar New Year on Saturday.
“I’m in the area where the coronavirus started,” the woman said in Chinese. “I’m here to tell the truth. At this moment, Hubei province, including (the) Wuhan area, even China, 90,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus.”
According to the woman, failure to isolate or treat the virus in one person may lead to the infection of at least 14 other people all at once.
“If you can’t isolate someone who’s infected with the virus, or if you can’t make the right treatment to them, at least 14 people will be infected by that virus at once,” she said.
“That means 14 other people will be infecting 14 times sooner or later.”
As of Monday night (Beijing time), more than 80 people in China have died due to the virus, most of whom lived in Hubei.
Meanwhile, there were 2,827 confirmed cases and 5,794 suspected cases, as well as 461 people in critical condition and 51 recoveries throughout the country, according to the BBC.
On the same day, Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang announced that he and Ma Guoqiang, the city’s party secretary, would resign to “appease public indignation.”
“Our names will live in infamy, but as long as it is conducive to the control of the disease and to the people’s lives and safety, Comrade Ma Guoqiang and I will bear any responsibility,” Zhou said, according to The New York Times.
So far, the Chinese special administrative region (SAR) Hong Kong has eight cases of infection, while Macau (SAR) and Taiwan have five cases each.
Before offering to resign, Zhou announced that five million people have left Wuhan amid the outbreak and in time for the Lunar New Year, according to CNN. Nine million reportedly chose to stay.
“We don’t care what the government says,” the woman in the viral video continued. “I will tell you through social media. Everyone, please donate masks, goggles and clothes to Wuhan. Please help us. Please donate disposable goggles, disposable masks and disposable clothing. Currently all resources are not enough. All doctors in all hospitals in Wuhan are now on the front lines to prevent coronavirus. We are all standing at the deadline.”
The woman repeatedly warned against going out for the Chinese New Year. She also urged viewers to share her message.
“Some family members, relatives, friends and some people aren’t getting this news right now. If you are watching this video, please spread it right away,” she said. “We must be aware of this issue. This is a political challenge.”
The woman did not reveal where and how she obtained her number of 90,000 infections. However, estimates from academics at the University of Hong Kong suggest that there had already been 43,590 patients on Saturday, including those in the incubation stage of the virus.
Gabriel Leung, lead researcher and dean of the university’s medicine department said that as of Saturday, his team estimated 25,630 patients showing symptoms in Wuhan — a number that would double in 6.2 days, according to mathematical modeling based on global infection figures. They also predicted that the number of infections in the five megacities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Chongqing, would peak between late April and early May.
“We have to be prepared, that this particular epidemic may be about to become a global epidemic,” Leung told the South China Morning Post. “Substantial, draconian measures limiting population mobility should be taken immediately.
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