Coronavirus incubation period could be as long as 24 days

The World Health Organization has not changed its 14-day quarantine recommendation while it aims to fast-track drug treatments

A new paper by Chinese scientists found that the incubation period for coronavirus can be as long as 24 days, but the World Health Organization has not changed its 14-day quarantine recommendation and experts caution that the paper has not yet been peer-reviewed.

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One of the paper's authors is Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese government's senior medical adviser. The virus outbreak could be over by April, Zhong told Reuters on Tuesday.

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Other scientists warned that the 24-day figure is an outlier.

"Please stop sharing fake and unverified news — the report of a possible 24 day incubation period is NOT verified, and IF true, is more likely an EXCEPTION. From the same paper, the calculated incubation period for [coronavirus is 3 DAYS, SHORTER that SARS (5 days)," infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvana wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

Like Zhong, President Trump said the virus could fade away by April.

"It looks like by April, you know in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. Hope that's true," Trump said at a New Hampshire rally on Monday night. "I spoke with President Xi, and they're working very, very hard, and I think it’s all going to work out fine."

The WHO convened outside experts Tuesday to fast-track promising tests, drugs and vaccines to help slow the outbreak of a new virus that emerged in China that has killed more than 1,000 people and spread to two dozen other countries.

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Mainland China's death toll has risen to 1,016 with 42,638 confirmed cases, most of them in the central province of Hubei, where the virus emerged in December.

Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing a protective face mask waves as he inspects the novel coronavirus pneumonia prevention and control work at a neighborhoods in Beijing. (Pang Xinglei/Xinhua via AP)

Businesses are gradually reopening and the Chinese government has promised low-interest loans and tax cuts but airlines and other industries face potentially huge losses.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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