The novel Coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak that started in Wuhan is concerning.

It looks as though the virus is very contagious, and with a mortality rate higher than influenza – but with no vaccine or effective anti-viral treatment. What I am curious about are the figures being reported from China on infections and deaths.

For the past fortnight, infections have grown by a very regular number in the daily Chinese update. The figures don’t exhibit the variability you would expect to see in a normal distribution, and don’t reflect the growing infection totals. If they are accurate, the Chinese quarantine efforts have been spectacularly successful, yet fail with unexplained regularity. Hmm. Maybe there is a local limit in lab testing or other limitation which puts a daily ceiling on how many cases can be confirmed?

The last two days have seen figures released with a declining number of daily infections. Given the large population pool in Wuhan and the other major Chinese cities reporting infections, and the experience of cities like Singapore and Hong Kong, a decline infection growth strains credibility. I have seen a rumour stating only more severe cases are now being counted.

This is a concern if China has determined the economic impact of quarantine is greater than the increased illness and death a widespread outbreak would entail. If there is a lack of transparency, other governments might under rate the risk and severity of the illness, ultimately risking more exposure.

Hopefully, China has contained the outbreak, but it is disconcerting to watch figures that don’t reflect an expected path.

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