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Are the global interventions enough to prevent coronavirus pandemic?

Cheryl Cohen, associate professor in epidemiology at Wits University, said the risks that could lead to the coronavirus being a pandemic included the number of people infected.

Malaysian health officers are deployed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang on 21 January 2020 as authorities increased measures against the coronavirus. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG – You’ve probably heard of the word coronavirus and may be sick of it.

With more than 20,000 cases confirmed, the coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, seems poised to go global.

The virus is currently still centred in Wuhan but the virus has travelled to at least 23 countries, and further epidemics seem possible.

Cheryl Cohen, associate professor in epidemiology at Wits University, said the risks that could lead to the coronavirus being a pandemic included the number of people infected.

“If there are many people infected, it could be difficult to pick up all of them. The severity of illness is another factor.”

The professor said that if the global community was not able to stop the spread of virus, then that could lead to a pandemic.

Cohen added that China’s move to quarantine Wuhan was unprecedented.

“It shows the commitment of the global community to use all the tools we have to try and stop the disease from getting out. There’s still hope in the global community that this virus can be contained and stopped.”

There have been suspected cases in Botswana and in South Africa, but the National Institute For Communicable Diseases has said the cases tested negative.

Listen to the audio below for more.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)