The spread of the coronavirus is “definitely too late” to contain due to the millions of people who have now fled the hot zone of the health crisis, according to an expert.
Some five million people have already left Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak — presenting challenges about how to tackle the epidemic.
“It’s definitely too late,” said Jin Dong-Yan, a molecular virologist at Hong Kong University’s School of Biomedical Sciences. “Five million out. That’s a big challenge. Many of them may not come back to Wuhan but hang around somewhere else.”
Jin said that officials need to find a way to locate travelers who have left Wuhan.
“To control this outbreak, we have to deal with this,” he said. “On one hand, we need to identify them. On the other hand, we need to address the issue of stigma and discrimination.”
An analysis of travel patterns using map location from the Chinese map app Baidu revealed that trips from Wuhan between Jan. 10 and Jan. 24 were consistent with the early spread of the virus, according to the Associated Press.
The majority of confirmed cases outside of the Hubei province, which contains Wuhan, were in other central provinces — such as Henan, Hunan, Anhui and Jiangxi, which were the destinations of 14 percent of trips from the virus epicenter.
The illness — which has no cure — has so far killed 811 people and infected more than 37,000 others.