Chinese media claimed a woman began showing symptoms of coronavirus over 40 days after returning home from a short trip to the epicentre of the virus in Wuhan. The World Health Organisation (WHO) previously estimated the incubation period of the coronavirus to be 14 days and while the new estimate has yet to be confirmed, the longer period for symptoms to show up could pose a “larger challenge” to medical and public health officials. Infectious disease specialist Dr William Shafner told NTD News: “We’d like to know how it is they can so sure there were no other exposures of those individuals to the coronavirus.
“Such a long incubation period would undoubtedly present a larger challenge to the whole public health effort.”
Dr Schaffner maintained infection after over 30 days of incubation is “very rare” but admitted it would have been possible for the woman to have been asymptomatic for a long time after her return from Wuhan.
The infectious disease expert added: “It may only happen very, very rarely.
“But regardless, if that is possible, it makes the public health effort more difficult.”
Chinese officials have put the city of Wuhan, in the Hubei province, under lockdown in mid-January and all travel to and from the city has been banned in an attempt to stop the coronavirus from spreading.
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The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, was first recorded among market-goers in Wuhan in December but cases have since escalated to hit over 70,000. At the time of writing, the death toll had reached 1,868 in mainland China, with at least two victims around the world – including an 80-year-old tourist who died in France on Saturday.
The US and Australia have launched rescue efforts to bring home passengers quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship stranded off the port of Yokohama since February 4.
The Foreign Office confirmed on Tuesday their officials are “working to organise” a flight back for British nationals currently on lockdown on the Diamond Princess.
The FCO said in a statement: “Our staff are contacting British nationals on board to make the necessary arrangements.
“We urge all those who have not yet responded to get in touch immediately.”
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Two British passengers aboard the cruise ship in Yokohama, David and Sally Abel, confirmed on their Facebook page on Tuesday they tested positive for coronavirus in the latest round of tests carried out on the Diamond Princess.
The couple’s son, Steve Abel, insisted the British Government had not reached out to the couple while they remained stranded on the ship.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Abel said: “They are very high-spirited people. But there are cracks in the armour and they are getting down.
“My mum breaks down in tears frequently, my dad is short-tempered.
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“They are not getting any communication from our country, so they are in the dark and feeling very unloved.”
Announcing the diagnosis on Facebook from the Diamond Princess, Mr Abel said: “Frankly, I think this is a setup! We are NOT being taken to a hospital but a hostel. That’s where partners are sent waiting out there quarantine.
“No phone, no wi-fi and no medical facilities. I really am smelling a very big rat here! Waiting for the transfer now..”
Local media has reported the Chinese Government will start carrying out house-to-house checks in Wuhan to monitor residents who have been infected with coronavirus.
According to media reports, communities in the coronavirus epicentre are to be put under around-the-clock “closed-off” management, in what is effectively a lock-down procedure.
Anyone suspected of having the virus will be forced to undergo tests while those who had close contact with anyone confirmed to have the virus are to be put under strict quarantine.
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