If you have been reading the news, you have no doubt seen the panic that is emerging around the new strain of Coronavirus in China. Up to 5,974 people have been infected with the virus since it broke out in December. The new strain of the virus originated in the city of Wuhan in China.
While it can seem scary when other countries such as Australia and the Philippines have reported cases of the virus, it’s important to remember that the virus is preventable. Here’s what you need to know.
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The virus is characterised as an upper respiratory tract illness which has symptoms similar to the common cold such as coughing and a fever, however it also causes difficulty breathing. In severe cases of the virus it can cause organ failure.
The virus causes severe respiratory tract illnesses such as pneumonia and now has a fatality rate of 35 of every 2,500 people infected. As this is a viral illness, antibiotics are of no use.
Hospitals can offer infected people lung support and the recovery depends on the strength of their immune system. Many of those who have died from the virus have been elderly or have had underlying health conditions.
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How does it spread?
While the World Health Organization believes the virus originated in animals, it spreads rapidly through human contact.
In the case of human-to-human transmission of the virus, it often happens when someone comes into contact with the infected person’s secretions, such as a cough or sneeze, or through a handshake.
While the panic surrounding the new strain of Coronavirus is being widely covered in British media, precautions are being rapidly introduced to ensure that the virus does not spread any further than it already has.
Again, similar to the common cold, there is no cure for Coronavirus and the symptoms usually go away on their own with rest, although severe cases may need hospital support. Doctors may additionally be able to relieve symptoms with certain medications.
It is advised that if the symptoms start to feel worse and more severe than a standard cold, you need to seek medical treatment.
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How to prevent it
Trials for a vaccine for this strain of Coronavirus are underway however it is not available to the public yet.
In the UK, unless you have recently travelled to China or been in contact with someone infected with the virus, you should treat any cold symptoms as normal. The NHS generally advises that there is no need to visit the doctor for a cough unless it is persistent, or the symptoms become severe and painful.
The easiest way to avoid contamination is to stay clear of people who are infected and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Officials in China are advising people in the country to wear a face mask as a more serious precautionary measure.
Should you worry?
According to experts, while the spread of the virus is worrying, it is not a surprising development. The key issues of concern to the World Health Organisation are how transmittable the virus is between people and what proportion of people end up in hospital with it. Healthcare professionals have stated that a virus that spreads easily tends to have a milder impact.
Most British people who were in China have now been flown back, however they are quarantined before going back home to make sure that they have not brought the virus back with them.
Overall, the coronavirus has affected older people the hardest as they already have a weakened immune system, and if you are in overall good health, the risk is much less.
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