The total number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases on the Chinese mainland has exceeded the total number of SARS cases during its outbreak in 2003, but a senior public health expert said the new virus appears to be less severe than SARS and there is no need for panic.
The number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on the Chinese mainland reached 5,974 as of Tuesday midnight, including 132 deaths, since the outbreak was first reported late December, figures released by the National Health Commission on Wednesday showed.
This means the virus has caused more cases than SARS in just a month -- a total of 5,327 cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome were reported on the Chinese mainland between the end of 2002 and Aug 16, 2003, including 349 deaths, the Beijing-based Health Times reported on Wednesday, citing figures by the former health ministry.
Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told the newspaper that compared with SARS, which caused a number of cases in critical condition, the novel coronavirus outbreak is less severe, and some patients with mild illness can heal without having to be hospitalized.
However, the new virus is more difficult to control and prevent than SARS, as it can also transmit between humans during incubation, he said.
With the lockdown of Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, the number of cases exported from the city will gradually fall, so the rise in cases in other parts of China will also be put under control, Zeng said.
Meanwhile, the warming weather will restrain the spread of respiratory diseases and contribute to control and prevention of the virus, he said.