The new Coronavirus (Covid-19) spreads quickly. It is known that over 185,000 people are infected and over 7,300 deaths have been recorded – including 55 people in the UK who were diagnosed with the virus.
While the outbreak started in China, the bulk of was Cases and deaths are now outside the country and the virus is spreading internationally.
What is a corona virus?
Corona viruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Seven, including the new virus, have made the leap to humans, but most only cause cold symptoms.
Two other corona viruses – the Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) – are much more severe. to have killed more than 1,500 people between them since 2002.
The new virus, officially called Covid-19, is also dangerous – so far around 20 percent of the confirmed cases have been classified as serious or critical. So far, about 15 to 20 percent of hospital cases have been classified as “severe”, and the current mortality rate varies between 0.7 and 3.4 percent depending on the location and, in particular, between access to good hospital care.
This is much lower than the death rate for Mers (30 percent) and Sars (10 percent), but still a significant threat.
Scientists in China believe that Covid-19 has mutated into two strains, one more aggressive than the other, which could complicate the development of a vaccine.
How did the outbreak start?
The source of the corona virus is believed to be a “wet market” in Wuhan who sold both dead and live animals including fish and birds.
Such markets pose an increased risk of virus transmission from animals to humans, as hygiene standards are difficult to maintain when live animals are kept and slaughtered on site. Typically, they are also tightly packed.
The animal source of the last outbreak has not yet been identified, but the original host is believed to be bats. Bats were not sold on the Wuhan market, but may have infected live chickens or other animals sold there.
Bats are home to a variety of zoonotic viruses including Ebola, HIV and rabies.
Could the outbreak get bigger?
It is impossible to tell in which direction the disease will go, but in its current path it is likely to spread to more countries and affect many more people. The number of cases in China is starting to decrease, but is increasing in the rest of the world. To learn more about what’s likely to happen Click here.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The first symptoms are fever, dry cough, fatigue and general malaise. For the complete reading of the Symptoms and treatment of coronavirus, click here.
How many people have died of the disease so far?
Since the outbreak began, more than 182,000 cases have been confirmed and the death toll has exceeded 6,500. Most cases are currently outside of China, and the virus has spread to more than 100 other countries.
According to the Chinese authorities, around 80 percent of cases are mild, but 20 percent have to be hospitalized, and the mortality rate varies from country to country.
Is Corona Virus in the UK?
So far, over 1,950 people in the UK have tested positive for the virus.
An elderly person with underlying health problems died as the first person in the UK to be diagnosed with the disease. The Royal Berkshire NHS Trust confirmed this on March 5. Since then, a total of 55 people have died.
The police have been given unprecedented powers to force those at risk Corona virus in quarantine, fearing that two general practitioners might have passed the virus on to patients.
Everyone in the UK must now avoid visits to pubs, restaurants and “non-essential contact” with other people, said Boris Johnson when he introduced the greatest restriction of civil liberties “in peacetime”.
Is there a cure for the corona virus?
There is no specific treatment, although doctors are Testing existing medicines for viruses like Ebola and HIV. Initial results appear promising, but until the full clinical trials are complete, doctors cannot be sure that the drugs are effective.
Work on developing a vaccine is accelerating, but that work was complicated by the virus that mutates into a second strain.
Continue reading: How long do we have to wait for a coronavirus vaccine?
How does the corona virus spread?
Like cold and flu viruses, the virus spreads via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. The droplets land on surfaces and are picked up and spread by others. People catch the virus when they touch their mouth, nose or eyes with their infected hands.
It follows that the most important thing you can do to protect yourself is to keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water or a hand disinfectant gel.
For more information on protecting yourself, visit our website Instructions on symptoms and treatment here.
Is the corona virus in the air?
There is some debate over whether the disease is airborne – there is no evidence yet, but that could change. Viruses stay in the air longer than those transmitted by droplets and can also be transmitted in air conditioning and ventilation systems.
The current advice is that the disease can only be transmitted between close contacts – defined as more than 15 minutes within two meters of an infected person. You can find more information on our Instructions on symptoms and treatment.
Who started the corona virus?
Various crazy conspiracy theories circulate that the virus accidentally or deliberately escaped from a Chinese laboratory. However, this is categorically wrong, and scientists who study its genetic code have linked it to bats. It then probably jumped to another animal that it passed on to humans.
The number of diseases transmitted from animals to humans is increasing and there are teams of virus hunters track them down.
Where’s the disease now?
After the disease was first reported in China, it has now spread to more than 100 countries worldwide and extends across Europe, America and Asia.
Italy has also seen a large number of cases that have prompted the authorities to do so impose a lock in the north of the country.
The disease has also spread to the Middle East, with Iran particularly affected.
Should I cancel my travel plans?
The Federal Foreign Office warns against trips to countries such as China, Spain and Italy.
In any case, several countries have issued travel bans that prevent British and foreigners from entering the country. Donald Trump announced a ban on visitors from Europe and the UK to the US, while many other countries will not allow British citizens to enter. Here is the full list so far.
Is this virus like Sars and Mers?
Yes – but it’s nowhere near as deadly.
Sars and Mers are also coronaviruses that cause serious respiratory infections. They also came from bats, Sars that jumped to people through civet cats, and Mers that came from camels.
Sars, first reported in China in 2002, spread to 27 countries, infected around 8,000 people and killed 700 people. It spread quickly at first, but then died out.
Mers, however, is tougher. It first occurred in Jordan in 2012 and around 2,500 cases have been identified to date. It is more deadly than Sars and has claimed approximately 850 lives in total.
How serious is the disease?
According to the first 44,000 cases Published by the Chinese authorities, 80 percent of the cases are mild.
In approximately 14 percent of cases, the virus causes serious illnesses, including pneumonia and shortness of breath. It is critical in about five percent of patients and leads to respiratory failure, septic shock and multiple organ failure.
According to the WHO, the mortality rate in Wuhan is two to four percent, while it is around 0.7 percent in the rest of China and in the world.
It is unclear why the mortality rate is higher in Wuhan, but patient health services there may be overwhelmed. Men are more likely to have a severe form of the disease, as are people with underlying conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
How is this coronavirus compared to previous respiratory epidemics?
Spanish influenza from 1918 – or the H1N1 virus – remains the most common devastating flu pandemic in modern history. The disease has spread around the world and has caused an estimated 50 to 100 million deaths.
A version of the same virus was probably behind the 2009 swine flu outbreak killed up to 575,400 people.
Other major influenza outbreaks include Asian flu in 1957, which resulted in around two million deaths, and Hong Kong flu, which killed a million people eleven years later.
But coronavirus outbreaks have been far lower so far. Sars eventually spread to 27 countries, infected around 8,000 people and killed 700.
Is there anything I should do to prepare myself?
Yes, there are many basic precautions you can take to protect yourself from such respiratory viruses. Click here for a complete introduction to the Symptoms, treatments, and precautions that you can take against the new coronavirus.
Protect yourself and your family by learning more about it Global health security.