Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a new respiratory illness not previously been seen in humans. The virus started in Wuhan, in the Hubei province of China in late December last year, before slowly spreading across the world’s continents.
So far, the coronavirus has infected more than 43,000 people worldwide and left 1,018 dead as of 2pm on Tuesday, February 11.
Most deaths and infections have happens in the Hubei province, but the illness has spread to 28 countries.
In the UK, eight people have so far been confirmed carrying the virus.
Health officials are urgently tracing patients who might have been infected.
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The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the world to “fight this virus before it gets out of control”.
The rapid advance of the virus has triggered fear across the globe, despite all but two of the deaths and 99 percent of the infections reported as occurring in mainland China.
The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate, however, the risk to individuals remains low.
Here is what we know about the 2019-nCoV and what it does if you are infected.
What happens if you get coronavirus?
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, who heads the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme told reporters in Geneva about the symptoms of coronavirus.
She said: “You have mild cases, which look like the common cold, which have some respiratory symptoms, sore throat, runny nose, fever, all the way through pneumonia.
“And there can be varying levels of severity of pneumonia all the way through multi-organ failure and death.
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However, in most cases, symptoms have remained mild.
Dr Van Kerkhove added: ”We’ve seen some data on about 17,000 cases and overall 82 percent of those are mild, 15 percent of those are severe and three percent of those are classified as critical.”
A study of 138 patients infected with coronavirus in Wuhan, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on February 7, showed the most common symptoms were fever, fatigue and dry cough.
A third of the patients also reported muscle pain and difficulty breathing, while about 10 percent had atypical symptoms, including diarrhoea and nausea.
JAMA said: ”The median age of patients is between 49 and 56 years. Cases in children have been rare.”
According to the medical association, on average, people became short of breath within five days of the onset of their symptoms.
Severe breathing trouble was observed in about eight days.
The JAMA study has not released a timeline for when deaths from coronavirus occur.
However, an earlier study published in the Journal of Medical Virology on January 29 said on average, people who died do so within 14 days of the onset of the disease.
What is the risk of catching coronavirus in the UK?
The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate.
However, the risk to individuals remains low.
Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
Because it’s a new illness, the NHS does not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets.
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
If you have travelled from Wuhan or Hubei Province to the UK in the last 14 days you should immediately:
- stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with the flu
- call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the area
In Scotland phone your GP or NHS 24 on 111 out of hours. If you are in Northern Ireland, call 0300 200 7885.
Read more about the coronavirus in the UK on the NHS website.
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