Chinese health authorities reported another 17 patients who tested positive to a new pneumonia virus that has been spreading from central China, bringing the total afflicted to over 60. Researchers, however, suspect the true numbers to be hundreds more.
Of the 17 new Chinese patients, three of them were described as serious and the rest were stable. All except two “critically ill” patients have been transferred to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital for centralized treatment, according to the notice on Jan. 18.
The disease has killed two people and sickened 62 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged in December. Outside of China, at least three people—two Chinese tourists in Thailand and a Japanese local—have been found to carry the Wuhan virus. All of them have been to Wuhan, home to 11 million people.
Researchers from Imperial College London’s Medical Research Council Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, which collaborates with the World Health Organization (WHO) for infectious disease modeling, suggested that the number of people infected is far greater than the reported figure.
“[S]ubstantially more” people—as many as 1,723—may have been infected by Jan. 12, according to their study dated Jan. 17. The figure would be higher if patients with mild or no symptoms are factored in, the study added.
They said the situation called for increased monitoring in Wuhan and surrounding Chinese cities.
Chinese officials have not confirmed infections outside of Wuhan, but there have been at least three suspected cases in the southern cities of Shenzhen and Shanghai, according to the South China Morning Post.