The coronavirus has spread to 183 countries or territories, including the United Kingdom, and has killed almost 70,000 lives.
So, what is the disease, how does it spread and when are people most infectious?
How do I protect myself?
The best thing is regular and thorough hand washing, preferably with soap and water.
The coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets – packed with the virus – into the air. They can be inspired or cause an infection if you touch a surface they landed on and then your eyes, nose or mouth.
Therefore, coughing and sneezing in the tissues, not touching the face with unwashed hands and avoiding close contact with infected people are important to limit the spread.
Face masks do not provide effective protection, according to medical experts.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) is currently analyzing whether the public can benefit from wearing face masks.
This follows a study suggesting that the virus can travel even more in coughs and sneezes than previously thought.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The coronavirus infects the lungs. The two main main symptoms are fever and a dry cough, which in some cases can lead to breathing problems.
The cough is a new and continuous cough. This means coughing a lot for more than an hour or having three or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours (and if you usually cough, it can be worse than normal).
You have a fever if the temperature is above 37.8 ° C. This can make you feel hot, cold or shivering.
On average, it takes five days to start showing symptoms, the scientists said, but some people will have the symptoms much later. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that the incubation period lasts up to 14 days.
A sore throat, headache and diarrhea have also been reported in some cases and a loss of smell and taste may also be a symptom. But these symptoms are not specific to this coronavirus.
We still don't know much about the full range of symptoms.
People will be more infectious when they have symptoms, but there have been suggestions that some may spread the virus before they even get sick.
Initial symptoms can easily be mistaken for other winter insects, including colds and flu.
What do I need to know about the coronavirus?
How deadly is the coronavirus?
The proportion of deaths from the disease appears low (between 1% and 2%) – but the numbers are unreliable.
- Coronavirus mortality rate: what are the chances of dying?
Thousands are being treated, but they can die – so the death rate may be higher. But it can also be less if many mild cases are not reported.
An examination by the World Health Organization of data from 56,000 patients suggests:
- 6% become seriously ill – lung failure, septic shock, organ failure and risk of death
- 14% develop severe symptoms – difficulty breathing and shortness of breath
- 80% develop mild symptoms – fever and cough and some may have pneumonia
Elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure) are more likely to become seriously ill. Chinese data also suggest that men are slightly more at risk of dying from the virus than women.
Treatment depends on keeping the patient's body functioning, including respiratory support, until the immune system can fight the virus. Work on developing a vaccine is underway.
What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?
Patients with mild symptoms – such as continuous cough or high temperature above 37.8 ° C should self-isolate at home for at least seven days, according to the latest advice issued by Public Health England.
People are being advised not to call the NHS 111 report your symptoms, unless you are concerned. They should also not go to their GP, or A&E.
If you have contacted someone who may be infected, you may be asked to isolate yourself. Advice for people who traveled back to the UK from the affected areas and who may need to isolate themselves has been issued.
Other countries have introduced their own measures. For example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people with symptoms to call their doctor, and those who are slightly ill to isolate themselves.
The World Health Organization also issued an opinion to the public.
Who is tested and how does it work?
In its latest advice, Public Health England (PHE) stated that who self-isolate with mild symptoms will not be tested.
However, all hospital patients with flu-like symptoms will be tested.
If you need testing in the UK, results may be available on the same day, but you may be asked to stay at home and self-isolate. while you wait.
How fast is it spreading?
Tens of thousands of new cases are being reported worldwide every day. However, it is believed that health agencies are unaware of many cases.
After starting in China, the coronavirus is spreading rapidly in many other countries.
It took 67 days from the first reported case to reach the first 100,000 cases, 11 days for the second 100,000 cases and just four days for the third 100,000 cases.
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