Coronavirus is a global health emergency which has so far killed 910 people. The deadly infection has spread to 28 different countries having originally started in Wuhan City in China. The World Health Organization (WHO) is attempting to prevent coronavirus from becoming a global pandemic. But what is a “superspreader”?
The number of people infected with coronavirus in the UK has doubled to reach eight after four new patients tested positive or the virus.
The increase in infected Britons comes as the Government issued new powers in England to keep people in quarantine in a bid to prevent spreading the virus.
In order to do this, the Department of Health has described the coronavirus as a “serious and imminent threat” to public health.
A GP practice in Brighton has closed today after a staff member tested positive for the virus.
But despite the increases in the number of infected patients, the overall risk level to the UK remains “moderate”.
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Coronavirus outbreak: What is a ‘superspreader’?
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The new cases are all linked to a British man who caught the virus at a conference in Singapore and travelled to a ski resort in France.
He was diagnosed in Brighton and is now being treated at St Thomas’ Hospital in London.
He is also linked to the fourth British patients, who was exposed to the virus in France.
Five British nationals have also tested positive in France, following his trip to the ski resort.
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What is a “superspreader”?
The man diagnosed in Brighton has been linked to a potential 11 other confirmed cases of the disease.
In the wake of these interactions, he has been called a “superspreader”.
The term has been bandied about in relation to viral outbreaks in the past and is being used to describe the current predicament with coronavirus.
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A “superspreader” is a person who has a disproportionately higher ability to infect others with a virus.
Many outbreaks in the past have been found to follow the 20:80 rule, with about 20 percent of individuals contributing to 80 percent of the disease’s spread.
According to authorities, identification of “superspreaders” is paramount in curbing the spread of the disease.
It is unclear why a person can be a superspreader.
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One theory is that some people are “superspreaders” because they may “shed” more of the virus into the environment, such as when they cough or sneeze, because of how their immune system works.
The British businessman diagnosed in Brighton appears to have travelled a great deal and seems to have spread the disease to multiple people.
Historically, superspreaders have been demonised, for instance, the Irish cook Mary Mallon who was remembered as “Typhoid Mary”, unknowingly passed on the disease as she exhibited no symptoms.
She was subsequently exiled and spent decades in quarantine.
Another suspected superspreader in the current outbreak is a man believed to have infected 14 workers at a hospital in Wuhan, China.
The superspreader phenomenon was also identified in the SARS outbreak in 2002 to 2004.
What are the latest statistics on the coronavirus outbreak?
There are currently more than 40,000 people infected with the disease, 6,494 of which are in serious or critical condition.
In total, 3,550 people have recovered from coronavirus and 910 have died as a result of the infection.
So far, the majority of cases are in China, with Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Thailand having the next highest numbers of infected cases.
The current transmission rate is three to four people from one case and the incubation period is two to 14 days.