HOW DANGEROUS IS CORONAVIRUS?
About 14 per cent of people who contract the Covid-19 coronavirus are taken to hospital – with severe symptoms including breathing problems and pneumonia. About 5 per cent need intensive care.
But the majority who get the virus suffer nothing more than a cough and may never know they are infected. So far, some 51,000 people around the world have already recovered from coronavirus – and that just includes the numbers who received a diagnosis.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DIE?
Officially, the death rate so far has been just over 3 per cent. But experts believe the true mortality rate is probably between 1 and 2 per cent. This is because most mild cases have not been picked up by doctors or reflected in the official numbers – so the death rate is inflated.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE WITH OTHER DISEASES?
A person wearing a hazmat suit and gas mask is pictured at Nike’s headquarters in Sunderland, where offices have been closed for deep cleaning after the company said employees may have come into contact with people with the coronavirus
Staff in hazmat suits are seen carrying out a deep clean at the Apple store in Belfast. There has been at least one case confirmed in the Northern Irish city
Seasonal flu kills roughly 0.1 per cent of people. So Covid-19 is between 10 and 20 times more fatal. But it is far less dangerous than SARS – the virus that ripped across China in 2003 – which killed 10 per cent of patients.
BUT DOESN’T CORONAVIRUS SPREAD MORE EASILY?
Yes, but not dramatically. The best estimates suggest every person with Covid-19 passes it on to 2.6 people, on average. For flu that number is 1.5.
CAN IT BE SPREAD WITHOUT SYMPTOMS?
Initially scientists feared carriers who had no symptoms could pass it on. That is now in doubt. What is likely, however, is those who have mild symptoms are putting it down to a cold and going about their normal lives – which puts others at risk.
HOW LONG IS IT BEFORE SYMPTOMS APPEAR?
Again, unclear. Initially scientists said this could take up to two weeks. But recent evidence suggests the incubation period could be as long as a month – particularly among children. The average, however, is much shorter. A Chinese study said the average period of symptom onset was 5.4 days for adults and 6.5 for children.
WHO IS AT RISK?
The virus can affect anyone – with a study of the first 41 infected people revealing two thirds did not suffer from any pre-existing condition. But the middle-aged are most likely to get it – 78 per cent of those infected in China have been aged 30 to 69.
WHAT ABOUT THE OLD?
Only 3 per cent of people infected so far have been over 80 – but if they get it they are more vulnerable. Analysis of 72,000 cases in China suggests for over-80s the death rate is 15 per cent. For those in their 70s the death rate is 8 per cent and for those in their 60s, 4 per cent.
WHO ELSE IS VULNERABLE?
Those with other conditions – such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and kidney problems – are likely to suffer severe complications if they become infected.
WHAT ABOUT CHILDREN?
Children seem to be low-risk. Less than 1 per cent of the Chinese cases have been under the age of ten – and if children do get the virus it’s often a mild form. They do, however, retain the virus for longer than adults. A study last week found the virus was still present in the stools of some children for a month after they contracted it.
DOES GENDER MATTER?
Men are marginally more likely to get the virus than women. It is not clear why this is.
A lone commuter wears a face mask as he crosses London Bridge (left) in the capital this morning, while a student at University College London (right( also chooses to cover her mouth
Coronavirus fears have gripped Britain today, with one commuter pictured wearing a face mask as she waited to board a train on the London Underground
HOW DO DOCTORS TEST FOR COVID-19?
Anyone who has symptoms –particularly if they have travelled to an at-risk area – are told to report to A&E, where they are sent to an isolated ‘pod’. They are tested using a cheek swab which is sent off for analysis at one of 12 Public Health England labs, a process that takes between 24 and 48 hours. Any positive test is double-checked at the main PHE lab in Colindale.
The government’s battle plan has been divided into four stages – ‘Contain’, ‘delay’, ‘research’ and ‘mitigate’
WHAT TREATMENT DO PATIENTS GET?
There is little doctors can do to tackle the virus, but they can treat the symptoms – such as fever and respiratory problems. Antivirals and antibiotics are also used, mainly to keep secondary problems at bay. In the most serious cases patients are put on life-support equipment.
WHAT ABOUT A VACCINE?
Even though the Wuhan virus appeared only a few weeks ago, 20 teams around the world are already manufacturing vaccines. Chinese authorities provided the DNA code for the virus early on in the outbreak, enabling scientists to get to work straight away. A team at Imperial College London is ready to start human trials within weeks.
HOW BAD COULD IT GET?
The Government said in a worst-case scenario, up to 80 per cent of the British population could become infected.
Scientists predict the UK would see a coronavirus peak two to three months after sustained person-to-person transmission becomes established.
There will then be two to three months of decline, meaning an outbreak could last up to six months. Scientists believe it will then become endemic – returning every winter along with flu.