[Note: all that follows is an excerpt that links back to the original article published by Nature, 31 JANUARY 2020, and that you can finish reading there. . .]

Kristian Andersen, an infectious-disease researcher at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California, is not concerned about the virus becoming more virulent. He says that viruses constantly mutate as part of their life cycle, but those mutations don’t typically make the virus more virulent or cause more serious disease. “I can’t think of any examples of this having happened with an outbreak pathogen,” he says.

Coronavirus outbreak: what’s next?

Experts weigh up the best- and worst-case scenarios as the World Health Organization declares a global health emergency.

by Dyani Lewis

Scientists and health authorities around the world are racing to halt the spread of a deadly virus that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December. Thousands of people have already contracted the new coronavirus, which causes respiratory illness. The death toll is at 213, and is rising daily. On 30 January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a “public-health emergency of international concern” — an alarm it reserves for events that pose a risk to multiple countries and which requires a coordinated international response.

Crucial details about the virus and how it spreads are still unknown, but experts are considering best- and worst-case scenarios on the basis of previous epidemics and what scientists already know.

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