Experts say Wuhan coronavirus will likely become a pandemic

A woman wears a mask outside the Forbidden City in China.
(Image credit: Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty Images)

Experts believe that the highly contagious Wuhan coronavirus, which has killed at least 360 people in China and one in the Philippines, will likely become a pandemic.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, now operates a nonprofit called Resolve to Save Lives, which works to fight epidemics. Frieden told The New York Times it is "increasingly unlikely that the virus can be contained," making it "therefore likely that it will spread, as flu and other organisms do, but we still don't know how far, wide, or deadly it will be."

A pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease. This coronavirus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and there are 17,205 confirmed cases in the country. The World Health Organization said Sunday there are 146 confirmed cases in 23 countries outside of China, including nine in the United States. The elderly and those with pre-existing health issues are most at risk.

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There are travel restrictions in place worldwide for people coming from China, where doctors are struggling to help patients. Face masks are sold out across the country, and goggles and gloves are in short supply. Some hospitals have gone on social media and asked for donations, but those posts have since been deleted by government censors, The Washington Post reports. A hospital that was built in 10 days is set to open Monday in Wuhan, with 1,000 beds and 1,400 medical workers able to assist patients with coronavirus.

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