Singapore—While the world grapples with a possible pandemic from the Wuhan coronavirus, Ho Ching, the CEO of government-owned Temasek Holdings and wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, presents two possible scenarios should a worldwide outbreak actually occur.
Madam Ho shared a link on her Facebook page to an article from The New York Times (NYT) from Sunday (Feb 2) entitled “Wuhan Coronavirus Looks Increasingly Like a Pandemic, Experts Say.”
The article talked about how researchers have become alarmed by the swift rise in Wuhan coronavirus cases, which has raised the possibility of a pandemic, many infectious disease experts say, even with travel bans put in place by a number of countries, including China itself.
Scientists say that the new virus spreads similar to how the flu does, instead of other viruses such as SARS, which moves more slowly.
Of the new virus, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in the United States says, “It’s very, very transmissible, and it almost certainly is going to be a pandemic. But will it be catastrophic? I don’t know.”
The NYT quotes Dr. Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as saying, “Even 1 percent mortality would mean 10,000 deaths in each million people.”
Madam Ho wrote that there are two scenarios concerning a possible pandemic.
One, that the pandemic is contained, but “with some difficulty,” she writes. “We can see a peak in 2-4 months, the former if we are lucky with no new epicenter clusters appearing in China or South East Asia. That means pandemic dies down in 4-6 months, as summer months warm up the weather.”
The other scenario is not nearly as optimistic. According to Madam Ho, the second possibility is “We cannot contain this, especially if there is an epicenter with weak medical support.”
However, even if the virus cannot be contained, compliance with quarantine and other containment measures will at least hinder the spread of the sickness, buying time for the development and production of successful treatments and vaccines.
Additionally, she writes, “Diagnostic kits can be improved for faster and simpler early 1st line screening, so as to reduce the load on accurate medical tests at hospitals.”
And a delay in the outbreak also gives authorities time to “review and put in place processes to handle massive outbreaks across the world, where community spread is not just in China, but everywhere.”
Since individuals in Wuhan, China, began showing symptoms of the new coronavirus in early December of last year, there are now at least 17,205 confirmed cases around the globe, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which declared a public health emergency last week. The death toll from the virus is now at 360, surpassing the death toll from the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Singapore has 18 cases of Wuhan coronavirus patients, 16 of whom are from Wuhan and the other two, are Singaporean. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Sunday (Feb 2), “All of them remain in stable condition, and most are improving.” -/TISG