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expert reaction to preprint on the incubation period of the novel coronavirus

A preprint, as posted on medRxiv, reports on the incubation period of the novel coronavirus, suggesting it may be longer than previously thought. 


Prof Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine, University of East Anglia (UEA), said:

“In presenting data on over 1000 cases of 2019 nCoV, Guan and colleagues have done a remarkable job. The suggestion that the incubation period may extend up to 24 days is definitely worrying, especially for people currently in quarantine who may, therefore, expect to spend longer is isolation.

“However, the median incubation period remains very short at 3 days. This means that a half of people who will get ill will have developed their illness within 3 days of the initial contact and the proportion of people with the really long incubation periods will be very small. One of the issues with particularly long incubation periods is that it is often very difficult to exclude the possibility that the person had not had a second unrelated contact. Nevertheless, this new information illustrates is concerning and illustrates the need to be continuingly re-evaluating our risk assessments and advice.”


Clinical characteristics of 2019 novel coronavirus infection in China’ by Wei-jie Guan et al. was posted on the medRxiv preprint server on Sunday 9th February. This work is not peer-reviewed.



Declared interests

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