The National Institute for Communicable Diseases’ Dr Kerrigan McCarthy believes South Africa can use the COVID-19 Coronavirus can serve as a learning opportunity in dealing with public health crises in the future.

In a short interview, McCarthy said outbreaks like COVID-19 “leave a legacy” that allows a government and health workers to better plan for other health crises which may emerge.

“Having worked through a number of larger public health crises in our country, I’ve learned that every outbreak leaves a legacy behind it that allows us to harness the good, or the gift, that there was in that outbreak in terms of the way we organise ourselves as people, and the way we look after and care for ourselves,” she said.

“Outbreaks have been sweeping through human kind for millennia…Each time these happen, there are benefits and things we can learn to make ourselves as a society stronger.”

McCarthy said interventions that are being learnt now can save lives going forward.

“Coronavirus is here to stay. It is going to change the way we interact as people in a way that can only leave us stronger,” she said.

“Our generation will never forget from a scientific perspective the need to retain the lessons we’ve learnt in organising ourselves and responding to the outbreak.”