- 15,510 individuals from Wuhan traveled to South Korea and Japan in 24 days, potentially spreading the coronavirus.
- South Korea’s media criticized the failure of Wuhan to contain the outbreak.
- The virus is spreading at a rapid pace but researchers are far from finding a vaccine.
Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS), a national South Korean television and radio network company, reported that 15,510 people from Wuhan, China came into South Korea and Japan in merely 24 days. The coronavirus outbreak is said to have started by early as November 2019.
According to SBS, from December 30, 2019 to January 22, 2020, four countries saw an exceptionally high number of tourists from Wuhan.
Thailand, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea respectively saw 20,558, 10,680, 9,080, and 6,430 people coming from Wuhan after the coronavirus outbreak ensued.
Coronavirus is spreading fast, and initial response was poor
South Korea’s media has focused on the decision of the government of China to ban foreign travel on January 27.
The coronavirus outbreak was first discovered and publicized in Wuhan in December. It was already intensifying at a rapid rate by as early as the first week of January.
Wuhan’s mayor Zhou Xianwang admitted that 5 million people left Wuhan right before the lockdown was put into place. That led to criticism on the practicality of the lockdown, especially if people were allowed to leave with weak screening.
Xianwang offered to resign as the mayor of Wuhan and said that the city was not able to provide timely information on the outbreak.
Yet, tens of thousands of people left Wuhan to neighboring countries within less than a month throughout late December to mid-January.
It remains unclear how many more individuals from the locked-down region entered other countries prior to December 30. Authorities are also uncertain how many individuals that left Wuhan were affected by the coronavirus.
Early estimates from various research institutions placed the total number of confirmed cases at 44,000.
Official data from China shows a total of 5,974 confirmed cases, with the death toll at 130.
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Outbreak to hit its peak by April
As previously reported by CCN, the coronavirus outbreak is expected to reach its peak by late-April or early-May.
A study from the prestigious Hong Kong University revealed that up to 150,000 people can be affected daily if the outbreak peaks.
Yet, researchers are nowhere close to finding a cure or vaccine for the coronavirus just yet.
According to major Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, it may take a year to find a cure to treat the coronavirus.
Vas Narasimhan, CEO of Novartis, said that researchers need to focus on containing the virus as much as possible before the vaccine is found.
The executive cited the fast-spreading nature of the coronavirus as the main challenge in finding a proper vaccine.
Scientists and virologists in other regions like Australia have made progress in recreating the virus to make headway in diagnosis.
An accurate diagnosis will be key in assessing the effectiveness of potential vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) stressed earlier this week.
This article was edited by Samburaj Das.