If this new coronavirus investigation is true, MWC's 14-day out-of-China measure is useless

In the 40 days that have passed since the outbreak of the new coronavirus in the Wuhan live animal market, many things have changed in the way that experts and health authorities are fighting the epidemic. However, there was one thing that had remained fairly nearly unchanged since then: the maximum incubation period for the virus was 14 days.

That is, if 14 days after possible exposure to the virus, there were no symptoms, the infection could be ruled out. From there arose the two weeks of quarantine that collect all the official protocols for action against the virus and also the measure to prohibit access to the MWC compound to all visitors who "have been in China less than 14 days ago" than the GSMA announced this weekend. However, a new Chinese investigation led by the renowned epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan (veteran of the SARS crisis) indicates that the maximum incubation period could be 24 days, 10 more than we thought.

If confirmed, the GSMA measures would not only be out of date, they would be irrelevant.

24 days

The study of 1,099 coronavirus-infected patients in 31 different regions of China shows that although the average incubation period is around three days (and not five as originally thought), there are cases that reach 24 days without difficulty. . Furthermore, what we considered to be one of the first clinical symptoms, fever, only manifested itself in 43.8% of patients at the time of their first visit to the doctor. However, it ended up developing in 87.9% after admission to hospital.

This would mean that the absence of fever is more frequent than previously thought and, therefore, the effectiveness of thermal controls is questioned, another of the measures announced by the GSMA to increase the safety of visitors and participants in the Mobile.

The study also brings good news. The main one is that it is less lethal than SARS and MERS. "While the new coronavirus has a (provisional) death rate of 2%, SARS was above 10% and MERS was 35%," said Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University. .

It is important to note that, despite the fact that the Chinese authorities are already working on its conclusions, the study has not yet been published and, therefore, we must exercise caution in interpreting the data and remember that we have already had studies on the coronavirus that have resulted wrong). However, the importance of the data is paramount and, at the moment, health authorities around the world are reviewing the conclusions with a view to modifying protocols that may have been outdated.

In what situation does this leave Mobile?

In a situation like the current one, the measures that the GSMA announced on Sunday lose their usefulness as "firewalls". The sense of security they wanted to convey to participants with the ban on access to people who have visited China in the previous 14 days, thermal controls or medical certifications is crumbling. None of them would be effective in ensuring that the virus does not penetrate the walls of the Fira de Barcelona where the MWC is held.

However, it is important to note that the GSMA was nothing original with its measurements. As we explained yesterday, the restrictions were no more than a "translation" of the epidemiological and clinical criteria that international protocols set forth in the reality of Congress and its operational capacity. It is reasonable to think that in the coming days, if these protocols are modified to include this extended incubation period, Mobile's security measures will become more stringent.

What is unclear at the moment is whether that move will do any good. Today, the MWC is reeling and it seems that nothing can prevent the cascade of cancellations that threatens to leave without content one of the biggest technological events of the year.

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