Coronavirus: 100,000 people may now be infected - expert

An expert warns as many as 100,000 people could be infected with the coronavirus as the deadly disease continues to spread around the world.

Professor Neil Ferguson, a public health expert at Imperial College, told The Guardian he believed the true number of those affected was far higher than the 2000 confirmed cases so far.

"There are very large numbers of Chinese tourists across Europe right now," he said.

"Unless the Chinese manage to control this, and I'm sceptical about whether that is possible, we will get cases here [in the UK]."

Most of 2000 confirmed cases have been in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the epidemic. However it's feared Chinese officials are downplaying the true number.

In an unconfirmed video circulating the internet, a person claiming to be a nurse based in Wuhan says nearly 90,000 people in the country have the disease.

"I'm in the area where the coronavirus started. I'm here to tell the truth. At this moment, Hubei province, including Wuhan area, even China, 90,000 people have been infected by coronavirus," she says, wearing a protective suit and face mask.

"We don't care what the government says. I will tell you through social media. Everyone, please donate masks, glasses and clothes to Wuhan.

"Please help us. Please donate disposable goggles, disposable masks and disposable clothing. Currently our resources are not enough."

After the cover-up of the 2002/2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome spread, many Chinese citizens fear their leaders have buried the scale of the crisis.

However Chinese authorities have denied the government has hidden the extent of the outbreak. They say any lower-level officials who cover up the spread of the virus will be punished.

In rare public dissent, a senior journalist at a Hubei newspaper run by the ruling Communist Party called on Friday for an "immediate" change of leadership in Wuhan on the Twitter-like Weibo. The post was later removed.