COVID-19: 80% of infections are mild, according to the CCDC


New data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC; Beijing, China) have suggested that, of the 44,672 COVID-19 cases studied, 80.9% were mild, 13.8% severe and 4.7% were critical.

As of 17 February 72,528 laboratory-confirmed and clinically diagnosed cases of the virus have been reported in China, including 1870 deaths. Cases have now been reported in every province in China. The new CCDC study sugests that the highest fatality rate is in individuals aged 80 or older, at 14.8%, this is compared with individuals up to age 39, where the fatality rate is estimated at 0.2%.

In addition the CCDC have suggested that men aare more likely to die (2.8%) than women (1.7%). WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, commented: “It appears that COVID-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses, including SARS and MERS.” Although there are still many gaps in understanding, this latest study has given a clearer picture of the demographics that are most at risk.

The Director-General of the WHO has declared the outbreak of this novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) following the second meeting of the Emergency Committee. In addition, on 10 February the UK government declared the outbreak a “serious and imminent threat” to public health.

The clinical signs and symptoms of this pneumonia in China are primarily fever, with a few patients experiencing difficulty in breathing and radiographs demonstrating invasive lesions in both lungs. The outbreak was initially linked to Huanan seafood market in Wuhan, however, on 20 January China’s National Health Commission confirmed for the first time that the infection could be transmitted from human-to-human.

The disease initally termed 2019-nCoV has now been officially termed COVID-19, and the virus itself has been designated SARS-CoV-2.

Many cases have been now reported outside of China, totalling 804 confirmed cases in 25 countries so far. These include 65 cases in Japan, 77 in Singapore, 15 in Australia, 35 in Thailand and 454 on the cruise ship ‘Diamond Princess’. In addition on 31 January two cases (from the same family) were identified in the UK – this has now increased to nine UK cases. The evidence of human-to-human transmission outside of Wuhan and outside of China was one of the primary reasons the outbreak was now considered to have met the criteria for a PHEIC.

A map showing the countries that have reported cases of COVID-19.

Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, commented: “We don’t know what sort of damage this 2019-nCoV virus could do if it were to spread in a country with a weaker health system. We must act now to help countries prepare for that possibility. For all of these reasons, I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern over the global outbreak of 2019-nCoV.”

The WHO has assessed the risk as very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level. They are now calling for US $675 million for new coronavirus preparedness and response global plan. The objectives of the plan are to  limit human-to-human transmission of the virus, particularly in countries most vulnerable if they were to face an outbreak; identify, isolate and care for patients early; communicate critical risk and event information; minimize social and economic impact; reduce virus spread from animal sources; and address crucial unknowns.

Dr Tedros commented: “Urgent support is needed to bolster weak health systems to detect, diagnose and care for people with the virus, to prevent further human to human transmission and protect health workers.”

Discover the currently known information on 2019-nCoV in our latest article >

Timeline of the coronavirus outbreak’s key events

  • 31 December 2019
    • Cluster of mystery pneumonia in China initially reported to the WHO China Country Office
  • 7 January 2020
    • Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified
  • 10 January 2020
    • WHO published a range of interim guidance for all countries on how they can prepare for this virus, including how to monitor for sick people, test samples, treat patients, control infection in health centres, maintain the right supplies, and communicate with the public about this new virus.
  • 11 January 2020
    • After testing of all suspected cases 41 individuals with novel coronavirus infection were preliminarily diagnosed in Wuhan City, including one death
  • 13 January 2020
    • Ministry of Public Health Thailand reported the first imported case of lab-confirmed novel coronavirus
  • 16 January 2020
    • The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare informed the WHO of a confirmed case of a novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in a person who travelled to Wuhan, China
  • 20 January 2020
    • Additional cases confirmed, bringing the total to over 200, including three deaths
    • Another case reported in Thailand and the WHO informed of a case in South Korea
  • 21 January 2020
    • The City of Wuhan reports 6 deaths and over 250 cases resulting from the virus
    • Chinese authorities also confirm human-to-human transmission of the virus
    • The first case is reported in the USA
  • 22 January 2020
    • The emergency committee met the WHO on whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, however, no decision was reached as it was determined that more information was needed
  • 23 January 2020
    • The Emergency Committee meet again, deciding that the situation is not a Public Health Emergency of International Concern at this time
    • Case numbers rise to 581 cases, including 17 deaths
    • Wuhan City placed into ‘lockdown’ with public transport halted (02:00 GMT)
    • Beijing cancels all major Chinese New Year celebrations
  • 24 January 2020
  • 25 January 2020
    • 1320 confirmed cases reported for novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) globally, including 23 outside of China and 41 deaths
  • 26 January 2020
    • 2014 confirmed 2019-nCoV cases reported globally, including 29 cases outside of China and 56 deaths
  • 27 January 2020
    • Hong Kong (8 confirmed cases) declares a city-wide emergency with schools closing until 17 February
  •  28 January 2020
    • Japan sending chartered flight to evacuate its citizens from Wuhan
    • Many countries have warned against any non-essential travel to China
  •  29 January 2020
    • British Airways suspend all flights to China
    • Countries including the USA, UK and Japan look to remove any citizens in Wuhan
    • Secondary transmission of the virus reported in Germany, Vietnam and Japan
  • 30 January 2020
    • A confirmed case in Tibet means the virus has reached every region in mainland China
    • WHO declares the virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern
    • Companies including Google, Ikea and Starbucks have closed their shops or stopped operations in China
    • First cases identified in Finland, India and the Philippines
  •  31 January 2020
    • France suspends all flights to China
    • Two cases identified in the UK and two cases confirmed in Italy
    • Singapore closes its border to all visitors from China
  • 1 Febraury 2020 –
    • WHO state that main driver of transmission is symptomatic cases
    • A healthcare worker is diagnosd in France – the first time outside of China
    • The first instance of third-generation human-to-human transmissionoutside Chinahas been identified in Germany
  • 2 February 2020 –
    • The first death reported outside of China, in the Philippines
    • The US and Australia said they would deny entry to all foreign visitors who had recently been in China
  • 3 February 2020 –
    • Hundreds of hospital workers in Hong Kong went on strike, demanding the border with mainland China be completely closed
    • India has cancelled all visas for Chinese citizens
  • 4 February 2020 –
    • First case reported in Belgium
    • The WHO states that US $675 million needed for new coronavirus preparedness and response global plan
    • A 30-hour old infant was diagnosed with 2019-nCoV, the mother was positive before birth, although at this time it is unclear whether the disease was transmitted in the womb or after birth
  • 6 February 2020 –
    • Third UK case reported, with acquisition of the coronavirus in Singapore
    • The WHO announces a global research and innovation forum to mobilize international action in response to the new coronavirus on 11 February
  • 7 February 2020 –
    • The WHO warns of shortages of personal protective equipment
  • 10 February 2020 –
    • The UK government declares coronavirus a “serious and imminent threat” to public health, as it announced new powers to fight its spread
    • A GP practice in the UK is closed after a member of staff tested positive for 2019-nCoV
  • 11 February 2020 –
    • The WHO names the disease caused by the novel coronavius COVID-19
  • 12 February 2020 –
  • 14 February 2020 –
    • China changes its reporting to include clinically diagnosed cases in addition to laboratory-confirmed cases, leading to over 60,000 cases being reported in the country overall after an increase of 14,840 overnight
    • The second death was reported outside of China, in Japan. The individual had no travel history to China
    • In China, health care workers account for 1716 confirmed cases of COVID-19
  • 15 February 2020 –
    • Egypt reports its first confirmed case of COVID-19
  • 16 February 2020 –
    • The third death outside of China is reported in France. This was Chinese tourist visitng France
  • 17 February 2020 –
    • From today, WHO will be reporting all confirmedcases, including both laboratory-confirmed as previously reported, and those reported as clinically diagnosed
    • New data suggests approximately 80% of cases are mild

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  1. It’s not pneumonia.. it’s something else, dry cough, fever and or episodic shivering increase in intensity over time.. most patients complain dysplasia like.. and chest tightness due respiratory muscles spa post prolonged subclinical dehydration..
    I dealt with many pets properly with complete cure..
    Dr. Abdullah Farhat..

    • Thanks for your comment Dr Farhat. As the WHO have described it as pneumonia and we are working off the outbreak news from this source this seemed an apt description, but it is interesting to hear more about the symtpoms.

    • Dr. Farhat, thank u for enlightening us with new clinical signs. I have a question. U said u have dealt with many pets.
      1.Does this virus affect animals with the same signs and symptoms?
      2. Is it zoonotic: animal-to-human transfer, is it possible? have such cases been recorded of zoonosis anywhere?

  2. There is not study to find the cause of death.Patients die in the icu(?)while being treated mostly by anesthesiologists who are generally trained to treat patients during surgical operations.It is imperative to know more about the changes occurring in the lungs but also in the liver,kidney and hearth.
    The clinical informations we have so far e.g. x-ray of the chest including CT-scan and laboratory findings do not
    make understandable what happens.Why do not have any death in the ship in Japan where more than 300 patients have been infected?

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