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Coronavirus: 60% of world population could be infected, expert warns

A prominent public health epidemiologist from Hong Kong warned that around two-thirds of the global population could be infected by the coronavirus if the epidemic is left unchecked.

The warning follows the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration that recent coronavirus patients who have never been to China could be “tip of the iceberg”.

Hong Kong University’s chair pf public health medicine Professor Gabriel Leung said that the serious question to ask is what exactly the size shape of the iceberg is. A majority of experts about the matter believed that an infected person would end up transmitting the respiratory illness to around 2.5 other people. This translates to an “attack rate” of 60-80% according to The Guardian.

“Sixty per cent of the world’s population is an awfully big number,” Leung told the news outlet in London while he was on his way to Geneva to attend a meeting with the WHO on Tuesday.

At that rate, the death toll for the viral infection would turn out to be massive despite its general fatality rate which stands at 1% — something that Leun believes is possible if experts take into account milder cases.

Leung will tell the United Nations specialized agency that the main concern amid the crisis is the scope of the worldwide epidemic which continues to grow. The second concern is to determine if China’s drastic measures in preventing the virus’s transmission are effective and whether or not. If these are found effective, the next move would be to decide if it should be advised that other countries should adopt these measures.