The Wuhan coronavirus has exploded in China. There are three likely scenarios for what will happen next – and the bad news is that a pandemic looks difficult to avoid


5 February 2020

Mobile hospital

A 2,000-bed mobile hospital is set up in an exhibition centre in Wuhan, China

eature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

WITH more than 17,000 confirmed cases – and probably far more undiagnosed – the 2019-nCoV coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, seems poised to go global. As New Scientist went to press, the epidemic was still centred on the province of Hubei, but the virus had travelled to 23 countries, and further epidemics seemed possible.

Genetic analysis suggests that the virus isn’t changing much in humans, becoming neither more nor less harmful. So where is the outbreak likely to go …



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