Efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus have been dealt a blow, with new data suggesting the incubation period could be much longer than presumed.

Key points:

  • Chinese authorities say a 70-year-old man in China’s Hubei Province was infected with coronavirus but did not show symptoms for 27 days
  • A second patient has died of the infection in Italy, as an outbreak spread in the north of the country

A 70-year-old man in China’s Hubei Province was infected with coronavirus but did not show symptoms until 27 days later, the local government said on Saturday, meaning the virus’ incubation period could be much longer than the presumed 14 days.

The development could complicate efforts to deal with the virus which has killed over 2,300 people in China and is now spreading in South Korea.

The man, only identified by his family name, Jiang, drove his car back on January 24 to Shennongjia, in northwestern Hubei, from eastern Ezhou, where he had close contact with his sister, who had been infected, according to the government website of Hubei, the virus epicentre.

He had a fever on February 20 and tested positive for coronavirus a day later, according to the government statement.

No change to Australia’s quarantine regime

A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Health said authorities continued to monitor overseas developments closely, but did not flag any changes to Australia’s current quarantine regime.

“The Australian Government’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak is evidence-based and proportionate,” the spokesperson said.

“Our health emergency response arrangements are flexible and scalable, and are being tailored to most effectively respond to the evolving situation.”

Meanwhile, a second patient infected with the new coronavirus has died in Italy, the Italian ANSA news agency reported citing healthcare sources, as an outbreak spread in the north of the country with 30 cases reported so far.

The victim was a female resident in Milan’s Lombardy region, ANSA said.

Her reported death came hours after a 77-year-old man died overnight near Padua, in the nearby Veneto region.