More infectious but less fatal than SARS

NEW DELHI: The novel Corona virus (nCoV) is more infectious but less severe and fatal than the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak with 8,098 reported cases, health experts have warned.

As per World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics, 202 laboratory-confirmed cases of nCoV including three deaths were reported till last week. During the period of infection in the 2003 SARS outbreak, 774 deaths were reported. The fatality rate was 10% compared to 2% for nCoV. Public Health Foundation of India president Dr K Srinath Reddy said, “At present nCoV seems less virulent than SARS but looking at the quick spread it is more infectious than SARS.”

What is worrying health experts is the fact that nCoV has spread through respiratory means. “Viral infections could spread through human secretions or respiratory means. With respiratory infections the spread is quicker. This has been the case in nCoV,”said Dr Reddy.

Experts, however, feel that the number of fatalities would climb up and the death rate may be similar to SARS. Dr Shobha Broor, former professor of microbiology at AIIMS, said, “The virus has not mutated so far. But this is just the beginning of the epidemic. The cases are going up and up. We would need to wait and see how effective containment measures are.” According to experts, the spread being faster, even a lower fatality rate than SARS could mean more deaths. “The spread of nCoV is worrying,” said Dr Reddy. Statistically a 1-2% death rate in case of a highly infectious disease could easily mean 10,000 or 20,000 deaths.

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