But what is coronavirus, how does it spread and what are the disease symptoms?
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What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause infections ranging from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).
The virus attacks the respiratory system, causing pneumonia-like lung lesions.
Some of the virus types cause less serious disease, while others – like the one that caused Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) – are far more severe.
In 2003 an outbreak of a similar virus, Sars, killed more than 900 around the world within weeks.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms are similar to a common cold.
- a runny nose
- shortness of breath
- body aches
In most cases, you won't know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus.
But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract (your windpipe and your lungs), it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or those with weakened immune systems.
There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus.
To help prevent infection, do the same things you do to avoid the common cold such as using alcohol-based anti-bacterial soaps and sprays.
People should also avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth – and avoid contact with people who are infected.
A coronavirus infection should be treated the same way a cold is treated.
Biting your nails can seriously increase your risk of contracting coronavirus, according to an allergy and infectious diseases specialist.
Here's what can you do to keep your home safe.
How does coronavirus spread?
Coronavirus is an airborne virus, spread in a similar way to colds and the flu.
It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.
This means that anyone who is infected can pass it on to any surface or person they breathe on or touch.
How far has the virus spread so far?
In spite of efforts to contain the virus, it has gone international.
China, Japan, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia, Taiwan, Malaysia, US, Germany, Vietnam, Macao, France, UAE, Canada, Italy, UK, India, Philippines, Russia, Nepal, Cambodia, Finland, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Belgium and Sweden have all reported cases.
- January 31, 2020, the first two cases were reported in the UK.
- February 6, a third Brit tested positive for coronavirus.
- February 8, five Britons, including one child, were diagnosed with the virus in France after coming into contact with a person who had been in Singapore.
- February 10, it was revealed there were eight cases in the UK.
- February 12, the first case in London was confirmed bringing the total in UK to nine.
- February 16, the eight-month-old baby feared to be Britain’s youngest coronavirus victim given all-clear
- March 16, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces social distancing approach
- March 18, death toll in UK passes 100 as all schools announced to be closing for at least five weeks
- March 20, UK government orders all pubs, clubs, restaurants and gyms to close
- March 23, UK ordered into lockdown with just four exceptions
How many people have died from coronavirus?
The global death toll stands at over 17,000.
In China, the majority of deaths have been in the central province of Hubei.
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