The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has infected more than 45,000 people since appearing in China’s Hubei Province last year. The deadly epidemic is being treated as a global emergency as the number of cases outside of China’s borders grows.

On Wednesday, February 12, at least 45,204 people were infected, the majority of whom were in China.

Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand are chasing China with 50, 47 and 33 infections respectively.

The UK is far behind with eight confirmed infections and an additional two people tested positive for coronavirus on a Japanese cruise ship.

In a bid to keep track of the numbers, researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine devised an online tool mapping out the infections in real-time.

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The 2019-nCoV-tracker shows the number of infections and deaths and also charts out pasts infections for comparison, such as the 2003 SARS epidemic, 2009 Swine Flu outbreak and Ebola in 2014.

The tracker was presented by research fellow Edward Parker in an article for The Conversation.

He said: “In the final weeks of 2019, a virus slipped furtively from animal to human somewhere in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

“This inauspicious moment marked the sounding of a starting pistol, unheard at first but now echoing deafeningly across the globe. The race to stop a pandemic had begun.”

Since the coronavirus first appeared in Hunan City last December, the virus has spread to nearly 30 countries globally.

Although the infections and deaths have been mostly contained to China, one person in the Philippines has died from the coronavirus.

In the final weeks of 2019, a virus slipped furtively from animal to human

Edward Parker, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

The viral pathogen is transmittable between humans and may have been first spread between animals through bats or snake bites.

Coronavirus attacks the respiratory system by inducing flu or cold-like symptoms.

The disease gestates between two and 14 days, after which symptoms such as cough, fever and reacting difficulties manifest.

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If the symptoms are left untreated, coronavirus can deteriorate into full-blown pneumonia, kidney failure and death.

Dr Parker said: “In isolation, the daily headlines can be difficult to interpret, offering a static snapshot of a moving target.

“It is hard, for instance, to tell if the situation is getting better or worse, and to what extent control efforts are having any effect.

“To provide a clearer picture of this evolving story, at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, we have developed a new outbreak mapping tool.”

The coronavirus tracker is updated daily with figures pulled straight from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Dr Parker said: “Our hope is that this tool will provide more context to the daily headlines and a fresh perspective on key turning points in the disease’s history.

“For instance, by tracing the course of the outbreak, it is clear that the last week of January was pivotal for the international spread of the virus.

“In the space of a few days, the number of affected countries increased from seven to 20, while the number of confirmed cases outside China increased almost tenfold – from 11 to 106.”

The expert added the virus is yet to “ignite” outside of China but has already demonstrated its bailey to jump from one person to the next.

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