Samples from infected lungs had been sent to genetic sequencing companies to identify the cause of the disease, and preliminary results had indicated a novel coronavirus similar to Sars. The local health authorities and the country's Center for Disease Control (CDC) had already been notified, but nothing had been said to the public.
Although no-one knew it at the time, between 2,300 and 4,000 people were by now likely infected, according to a recent model by MOBS Lab at Northeastern University in Boston. The outbreak was also thought to be doubling in size every few days. Epidemiologists say that at this early part of an outbreak, each day and even each hour is critical.