There was never any danger of that in the case of Ebola, on account of its means of transmission. The world – with the exception of those people affected in West Africa – was lucky this time.

SARS and MERS are also zoonotic diseases. The SARS virus – SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome – that in 2002 and 2003 at first rightly caused global panic, but was then rapidly brought under control worldwide using traditional public health measures, i.e. case finding and isolation – had its origin in civet cats, which are eaten as a delicacy in parts of China.

MERS – properly MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) – is a virus first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. People suffering from MERS-CoV exhibit flu-like symptoms. To date WHO has been notified of 1,400 cases of MERS-CoV – mainly on the Arabian Peninsula. Of these, 40 per cent have died.