China's health minister Ma Xiaowei revealed Sunday that the Wuhan coronavirus can spread from person to person before any symptoms of the illness become apparent — a major development which means people who don't even know they are sick can spread the virus to others for up to two weeks.
This alarming news makes clear that the virus will be harder to contain than previously thought, and calls into question the methods being used around the world to stem its spread. Sars and Ebola, for comparison, are only contagious once the infected person begins to show symptoms, making it easier to isolate the sick and limit the virus's propagation.
Ma Xiaowei warned that the coronavirus outbreak is at a "crucial stage of containment."
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and longtime adviser to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the revelation a "game changer," adding:
"When I heard this, I thought, ‘oh dear, this is worse than we anticipated.' It means the infection is much more contagious than we originally thought. Assuming that Dr. Ma is correct, we're going to have to re-evaluate our strategy, that's for sure."
🔦 The latest reports from China indicate 56 dead and nearly 2,000 infected as the health minister warns that "it seems like the ability of the virus to spread is getting stronger."