The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently published the largest case series to date of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in mainland China (72 314 cases, updated through February 11, 2020).1 This Viewpoint summarizes key findings from this report and discusses emerging understanding of and lessons from the COVID-19 epidemic.
Epidemiologic Characteristics of the COVID-19 Outbreak
Among a total of 72 314 case records (Box), 44 672 were classified as confirmed cases of COVID-19 (62%; diagnosis based on positive viral nucleic acid test result on throat swab samples), 16 186 as suspected cases (22%; diagnosis based on symptoms and exposures only, no test was performed because testing capacity is insufficient to meet current needs), 10 567 as clinically diagnosed cases (15%; this designation is being used in Hubei Province only; in these cases, no test was performed but diagnosis was made based on symptoms, exposures, and presence of lung imaging features consistent with coronavirus pneumonia), and 889 as asymptomatic cases
Most case patients were 30 to 79 years of age (87%), 1% were aged 9 years or younger, 1% were aged 10 to 19 years, and 3% were age 80 years or older. Most cases were diagnosed in Hubei Province (75%) and most reported Wuhan-related exposures (86%; ie, Wuhan resident or visitor or close contact with Wuhan resident or visitor). Most cases were classified as mild (81%; ie, nonpneumonia and mild pneumonia). However, 14% were severe (ie, dyspnea, respiratory frequency ≥30/min, blood oxygen saturation ≤93%, partial pressure of arterial oxygen to fraction of inspired oxygen ratio <300, and/or lung infiltrates >50% within 24 to 48 hours), and 5% were critical (ie, respiratory failure, septic shock, and/or multiple organ dysfunction or failure) (Box).1
The overall case-fatality rate (CFR) was 2.3% (1023 deaths among 44 672 confirmed cases). No deaths occurred in the group aged 9 years and younger, but cases in those aged 70 to 79 years had an 8.0% CFR and cases in those aged 80 years and older had a 14.8% CFR. No deaths were reported among mild and severe cases. The CFR was 49.0% among critical cases. CFR was elevated among those with preexisting comorbid conditions—10.5% for cardiovascular disease, 7.3% for diabetes, 6.3% for chronic respiratory disease, 6.0% for hypertension, and 5.6% for cancer. Among the 44 672 cases, a total of 1716 were health workers (3.8%), 1080 of whom were in Wuhan (63%). Overall, 14.8% of confirmed cases among health workers were classified as severe or critical and 5 deaths were observed.1
COVID-19 rapidly spread from a single city to the entire country in just 30 days. The sheer speed of both the geographical expansion and the sudden increase in numbers of cases surprised and quickly overwhelmed health and public health services in China, particularly in Wuhan City and Hubei Province. Epidemic curves reflect what may be a mixed outbreak pattern, with early cases suggestive of a continuous common source, potentially zoonotic spillover at Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, and later cases suggestive of a propagated source as the virus began to be transmitted from person to person
Reference & Source information: https://jamanetwork.com/
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