Global pandemic likely to peak after two weeks; US may see 90,000 daily cases: Chinese researcher

By Xu Keyue Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/24 18:05:11

People dine in plastic tents at a restaurant in Manhattan in New York City on Thursday, amid the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: AFP

A Chinese researcher predicted that the cases of the global COVID-19 pandemic is likely to peak after two weeks, a trend in line with that in Europe, echoing the World Health Organization (WHO) chief who said the next few months are going to be very "tough" and some countries are on "a dangerous track." 

Medical experts also warn China to remain vigilant against the imported infections as the foreign mutations of the virus are different from the local-spreading coronavirus in genetic features, thus varying in pathogenicity and transmission capacity. 

The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference on Friday that many countries are seeing an "exponential increase" in cases.

"We are at a critical juncture in this pandemic, particularly in the northern hemisphere," he said.

The WHO chief's remarks came on the day when the organization reported 445,419 new cases, most ever in a single day, roughly half of them from Europe. Also, the world recorded a total of more than 42 million cases on Friday, currently standing at 42,147,237 cases, 1,143,467 of them fatal, data from the Johns Hopkins University showed.

France is one of the hardest-hit countries in Europe. In response to the emergency, the country's President Emmanuel Macron decided to extend a curfew to more than two-thirds of the population - at least 46 million of its residents - from midnight on Friday.

Liang Manchun, an associate research fellow at the Institute for Public Safety Research of Tsinghua University, who has been closely following the pandemic, told the Global Times on Saturday that based on their team's research model, the global pandemic will continue to escalate and may see a new peak after two weeks, a trend in line with the outbreak in Europe.

The pandemic in Europe is the main indicator of this global pandemic resurgence, Liang added.

As many countries in Europe failed to maintain the intensive anti-epidemic measures and normalize the epidemic prevention and control as in China, the COVID-19 cases surged again in the countries, Liang said. Thus, fighting against the rebound became more difficult as the proportion of the infected cases in Europe is much higher and the survival probability of the virus has increased, he noted.

"Personal protection measures and national restrictions in response to the pandemic really matter," he said. 

The epidemic forecast in the US remains gloomy. The US reported 71,671 new cases and 856 deaths on Friday, data from the Johns Hopkins University shows. 

Liang and his team predicted that the epidemic in the US could peak after one week of likely more than 90,000 cases per day, surpassing the former peak in June. 

Whether the world can flatten the curve depends on the countries' and regions' efficiency and normalization of anti-epidemic work, Liang said. 

As the global resurgence of the pandemic cases is inevitable, Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, said that China should remain vigilant about the imported infections. He explained that the structure of novel coronaviruses spreading overseas is different from that of the local virus, causing their gene's features to vary. Therefore, the imported virus could have different pathogenicity and transmission capacity, Yang said. 

"If the imported infections couldn't be well prevented and controlled, they could cause a second wave of epidemic in China," Yang warned. 

However, he tried to calm down the public by saying that the anti-epidemic measures are complete and well-implemented in China, so there is no need to panic. 

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