SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A leading Stanford infectious disease expert says the numbers coming out of China can be deceiving when it comes to the current coronavirus outbreak. "This is much Ado about something big," Dr. Stan Deresinski told KPIX 5 News.
"Two percent has been snickered at by some people as a pretty small proportion," he continued. "But when you end up affecting millions of people, which as I said is quite likely, that's a lot of people."
Deresinski was referring to the latest figures on the number of confirmed cases in China released by the China Centers for Disease Control which were being used by some in the United States to downplay the seriousness of the outbreak.
According to the CCDC's latest reporting, the vast majority of coronavirus victims develop only mild symptoms, and the majority of deaths are patients over 50 with serious underlying medical illnesses.
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Chinese health officials analyzed 72,314 patient records, which included 44,672 confirmed cases reported through February 11, 2020, and found 80.9% of cases were considered mild. A total of 1,023 deaths occurred among the confirmed cases for an overall fatality rate of 2.3%.
Governments across the globe continue to step up efforts to combat the spread of the disease. In Iraq, work crews were seen shooting disinfectant fog at a mosque, and authorities stepped up health screening at the airport.
At the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel in Tenerife in Spain's Canary Islands, hundreds of guests were locked down inside after visiting Italian doctor tested positive for the virus. It Italy itself, major tourist attractions were empty and vacant across, as the number of cases jumped to 650 as of Thursday.
The CCDC breakdown of the 1,023 deaths across China, shows 64 deaths of patients between 10 to 49 years old. For patients above 50 years old, there were 959 deaths, comprising 93.7% of the fatalities. Of the patients who died, many had one or more chronic medical conditions.
"Certainly much of the mortality has been in elderly with chronic underlying diseases, diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease and the like," said Deresinski.
Younger patients had "lower risk of death, certainly than the elderly person with chronic underlying disease", according to Deresinski.
Still, with 81% of the Chinese confirmed cases classified as mild, Deresinski said there's not enough information at this stage to determine how the disease will continue to unfold across the world.
"We can't say with certain how big this will get or how it will end. But I don't think there's any reason to be anywhere near panic at this time," said Deresinski.
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