Coronavirus has spread to more than 80 countries, including the UK. So, what is the disease and what can you do to protect yourself?
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?
Regular and thorough hand washing is crucial, health agencies say. 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.
So, coughing and sneezing into tissues, not touching your face with unwashed hands, and trying to avoid close contact with infected people are important.
Face masks do not provide effective protection against coronavirus, according to medical experts.
What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?
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