KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — It may be impossible to contain the new coronavirus outbreak in China that has spread to other countries, some infectious disease experts warned.
STATNews reported that the novel coronavirus, known currently as 2019-nCoV, could spread in a sustained way globally if it can’t be stopped in China and may even be one of the respiratory viruses that regularly infect people.
“The more we learn about it, the greater the possibility is that transmission will not be able to be controlled with public health measures,” Dr Allison McGeer, an infectious disease specialist based in Toronto, Canada, told STATNews.
If that is the case, she said, “we’re living with a new human virus, and we’re going to find out if it will spread around the globe.”
Neil Ferguson, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at Imperial College London who has issued a series of modeling studies on the 2019-nCoV outbreak, said: “Despite the enormous and admirable efforts in China and around the world, we need to plan for the possibility containment of this epidemic isn’t possible.”
He reportedly said there may already be 100,000 cases in China, and “almost certainly many tens of thousands of people are infected.”
Dr Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, tweeted last Sunday that governments should prepare for the possibility that the new strain of coronavirus can’t be contained.
“But given uncertainties + very high stakes, part of global & national planning efforts should now be aimed at possibility that nCoV containment could fail,” he said.
He suggested developing vaccines quickly and to create a global plan for mass manufacturing of the vaccine.
The novel coronavirus, which comes from the same family of viruses that produce deadly illnesses like SARS and MERS, or mild conditions like the common cold, has killed 106 people as of today, all in China where the virus originated from, while 4,193 infections were reported in the country.
Malaysia yesterday suspended entry to Chinese nationals from Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak in China, after reporting four confirmed cases.
Territories bordering China also banned entry of Hubei residents, including Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, while Mongolia closed its Chinese border crossings.