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Coronavirus symptoms: What are they and how do I protect myself? Coronavirus symptoms: What are they and how do I protect myself?
(3 days later)
Coronavirus has spread to more than 80 countries, including the UK.Coronavirus has spread to more than 80 countries, including the UK.
So, what is the disease and what can you do to protect yourself? So, what is the disease and how does it spread?
What are the coronavirus symptoms?
Coronavirus is a respiratory disease which seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough. After a week, it leads to shortness of breath and some patients require hospital treatment.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. They are similar to those for much more common viruses, such as colds and flu.
Coronavirus: What are the symptoms?
In more severe cases, coronavirus can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, multiple organ failure and even death.
Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease), are more likely to become severely ill.
The incubation period - between infection and showing any symptoms - lasts up to 14 days, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. But some researchers say it may be up to 24 days.
How do I protect myself?How do I protect myself?
Regular and thorough hand washing is crucial, health agencies say. The best thing is regular and thorough hand washing, preferably with soap and water.
It is not yet known exactly how coronavirus spreads. However, similar viruses are spread via droplets, such as those produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Coronavirus spreads when an infected person coughs small droplets - packed with the virus - into the air. These can be breathed in, or cause an infection if you touch a surface they have landed on then your eyes, nose or mouth.
So, coughing and sneezing into tissues, not touching your face with unwashed hands, and trying to avoid close contact with infected people are important. So, coughing and sneezing into tissues, not touching your face with unwashed hands, and avoiding close contact with infected people are important for limiting the spread.
Face masks do not provide effective protection against coronavirus, according to medical experts. Face masks do not provide effective protection, according to medical experts.
What are the coronavirus symptoms?
Coronavirus infects the lungs. The symptoms start with a fever followed by a dry cough. After a week, it can lead to shortness of breath and some people need hospital treatment.
The early symptoms can easily be confused with other winter bugs including colds and flu.
The incubation period - between infection and showing symptoms - lasts up to 14 days, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. Some researchers say it may be up to 24 days.
People will be most infectious when they have symptoms, but there have been suggestions some can spread the virus even before they are sick.
How deadly is coronavirus?
The proportion dying from the disease appears low (between 1% and 2%) - but the figures are unreliable.
Thousands being treated but may go on to die - so the death rate could be higher. But it may also be lower if lots of mild cases are unreported.
A World Health Organization examination of data from 56,000 patients suggests:
Older people, and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease), are more likely to become severely ill.
Treatment relies on keeping the patient's body going, including breathing support, until their immune system can fight off the virus. Work to develop a vaccine is under way.
What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?
The NHS says an epidemic in the UK is "likely".The NHS says an epidemic in the UK is "likely".
People who think they may be affected by coronavirus need to call the NHS 111 phone service for further advice. They should not go to their GP, or A&E.People who think they may be affected by coronavirus need to call the NHS 111 phone service for further advice. They should not go to their GP, or A&E.
In Scotland, check NHS inform, then ring your GP in office hours, or 111 out-of-hours. In parts of Wales where 111 is not available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.
If you have come into contact with somebody who may be infected, you may be told to self-isolate. People needing to do so should take "common-sense" steps to avoid close contact with other people, says Public Health England.If you have come into contact with somebody who may be infected, you may be told to self-isolate. People needing to do so should take "common-sense" steps to avoid close contact with other people, says Public Health England.
Advice for people who have travelled back to the UK from the main affected areas and some other countries, and who may need to self-isolate, has been issued. Advice for people who have travelled back to the UK from affected areas and who may need to self-isolate, has been issued.
Other countries have their own measures in place. For example, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention advises people showing symptoms to call their healthcare provider, and those who are mildly ill to self-isolate. Other countries have introduced their own measures For example, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention advises people showing symptoms to call their healthcare provider, and those who are mildly ill to self-isolate.
The World Health Organization has also issued advice for the public.The World Health Organization has also issued advice for the public.
What do I need to know about the coronavirus?What do I need to know about the coronavirus?
Will I be tested - and how?Will I be tested - and how?
If you need testing in the UK, you may have to give samples of mucus, blood or faeces. Samples will then be tested and results may be available on the same working day. If you need testing in the UK, you may have to give samples of mucus, blood or faeces. These will be tested and results may be available on the same day.
While you await your test results, you may be asked to stay at home and follow advice for self-isolation. While you await your test results, you may be asked to stay at home and self-isolate.
How deadly is coronavirus and will I get better?
Four out of five people who contract coronavirus will only experience mild symptoms, a WHO examination of data from 56,000 patients says. It suggests:
The proportion dying from the disease appears low (between 1% and 2%) - but the figures are unreliable.
Thousands are still being treated but may go on to die - so the death rate could be higher. But it is also unclear how many mild cases remain unreported - so the death rate could also be lower.
To put this into context, about one billion people catch influenza every year, with between 290,000 and 650,000 deaths. The severity of flu changes every year.
Right now, treatment relies on the basics - keeping the patient's body going, including breathing support, until their immune system can fight off the virus.
However, the work to develop a vaccine is under way and it is hoped there will be human trials before the end of the year.
Hospitals are also testing anti-viral drugs to see if they have an impact.
How fast is it spreading?How fast is it spreading?
Hundreds of new cases are being reported worldwide each day. However, it is thought health agencies may be unaware of many cases.Hundreds of new cases are being reported worldwide each day. However, it is thought health agencies may be unaware of many cases.
After starting in China, coronavirus is now spreading fast in countries like South Korea, Italy and Iran.After starting in China, coronavirus is now spreading fast in countries like South Korea, Italy and Iran.
Follow James on Twitter.Follow James on Twitter.
This explainer will be regularly updated to reflect the audience's questions about coronavirus. Details of how to get in touch are below.This explainer will be regularly updated to reflect the audience's questions about coronavirus. Details of how to get in touch are below.
What questions do you have about the coronavirus?What questions do you have about the coronavirus?
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Use this form to ask your question:Use this form to ask your question: