UK coronavirus: Cases could increase ‘1000-fold’ as COVID-19 mirrors flu outbreak

UK coronavirus cases reached 23 this week, with rapidly increasing infections throughout Europe, rousing concerns increased contact could spread the disease. The coronavirus has clawed its way through much of Asia and more than 30 other countries, with global cases now at 85,688.

Last week, COVID-19 cases in Italy rapidly spiked, with 150 recorded overnight between Sunday and Monday, February 24.

Now, the country is knee-deep in cases, with a total of 889, the most in any European nation.

Other regions are also seeing associated spikes, due to spillover cases arriving from affected areas.

Another spike could be incoming, as one expert revealed coronavirus cases could increase “1000-fold”.


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Speaking to, Dr Jeremy Brown, a Professor of Respiratory Infection at University College London Hospital, said coronavirus is comparable to a “fairly bad” seasonal flu outbreak.

He said while it is “nowhere near” as deadly as other coronavirus strains SARS and MERS, it could still infect “1000-fold more people”.

Professor Brown added the main issue for the UK would be the “logistics of caring for the infected people” as cases continue to snowball.

Although the current infection rate is concerning global health officials, Professor Brown said most people recover from the virus, which mirrors the flu in its fatality rate.

He continued: “Most people recover. A small proportion develop fatal disease which is reportedly mainly in those with pre-existing other medical conditions.

“This feels like what happens with flu – a lot of people get infected, some will get pneumonia, but deaths tend to occur in only those with pre-existing heart, lung, kidney or liver disease.”

While the disease has etched out its own pattern, Professor Brown said there is one puzzling outlier.

He said: “The doctor from Wuhan who died was in his 30s, which is concerning as that does not fit well with this pattern as he was a bit young to be likely to have a significant other disease.”


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The doctor in question is Dr Li Wenliang, who raised the alarm of the coronavirus in China before it embarked on its path across the rest of the world.

He died as a hero at the age of 34 after spending three weeks in hospital infected with COVID-19, praised for his work on the frontline in Wuhan.

Cases still number the highest in mainland China, specifically Hubei province, where authorities have also recorded the most deaths at 2,727.

The government currently advises against travel to mainland China, and has warnings in place for travel to Italy.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against “all but essential” travel to 10 small towns in the northern Italian region of Lombardy. 

They said the following 10 towns are serving as hotspots for infection:

  • Codogno
  • Castiglione d’Adda
  • Casalpusterlengo
  • Fombio
  • Maleo
  • Somaglia
  • Bertonico
  • Terranova dei Passerini
  • Castelgerundo
  • San Fiorano

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