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The seasonal flu, for example, kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In the United States, the mortality rate among people infected with influenza is 0.13 percent, the Centers for Disease Control has calculated.
If the virus spreads as quickly on a national scale, "it is possible that epidemics could be already growing in multiple major Chinese cities, with a time lag of one to two weeks behind Wuhan," said co-author Joseph Wu, a professor at the University of Hong Kong.
"Large cities overseas with close transport links to China could potentially also become outbreak epicentres."
If the new estimate of cases is accurate, it would mean that the mortality rate of the 2019-nCoV virus is significantly lower than preliminary figures suggested, with well under one percent of cases proving deadly.
* Outpatient ILI and laboratory data remain elevated and increased again this week. Nationally, and in some regions, the proportion of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses compared to influenza B viruses is increasing.
* Overall, hospitalization rates remain similar to this time during recent seasons, but rates among children and young adults are higher at this time than in recent seasons.
* Pneumonia and influenza mortality has been low, but 78 influenza-associated deaths in children have been reported so far this season.
* CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 22 million flu illnesses, 210,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 deaths from flu.
* Flu vaccine effectiveness estimates will be available later this month, but vaccination is always the best way to prevent flu and its potentially serious complications.
* Antiviral medications are an important adjunct to flu vaccine in the control of influenza. Almost all (>99%) of the influenza viruses tested this season are susceptible to the four FDA-approved influenza antiviral medications recommended for use in the U.S. this season.
A new study estimates that improving the rates of handwashing by travelers passing through just 10 of the world’s leading airports could significantly reduce the spread of many infectious diseases. And the greater the improvement in people’s handwashing habits at airports, the more dramatic the effect on slowing the disease, the researchers found.
The findings, which deal with infectious diseases in general including the flu, were published in late December, just before the recent coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, but the study’s authors say that its results would apply to any such disease and are relevant to the current outbreak.