Health

How killer coronavirus attacks the body from pneumonia to kidney failure – as 6 die and ‘thousands infected’


A KILLER virus is spreading across China – leaving six people dead and “thousands” more infected.

The new strain of coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organisation (WHO), first emerged in the city of Wuhan last month.

 The new strain of coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, causes symptoms that may start as a cold and eventually end up developing into pneumonia

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The new strain of coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, causes symptoms that may start as a cold and eventually end up developing into pneumonia

Since then it has been detected in other parts of China as well as in Japan, Thailand, Philippines and South Korea.

Chinese authorities say that so far the number of confirmed cases has almost reached 300, but experts believe the true figure could be far higher.

Scientists from Imperial College London suggest that based on incidences of the virus, at least 1,700 people could have been infected in Wuhan.

Experts warn the number of cases are expected to rise as Chinese New Year celebrations get under way this weekend.

It comes as the World Health Organisation (WHO) is due to hold emergency talks tomorrow to determine whether the outbreak constitutes a global public health emergency.

Serious symptoms

The new strain belongs to a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Almost everyone will be infected with a type of coronavirus at some point in their life – often it’s no more serious than a cold.

But in rare cases, the infection can be much more serious – as is the case with this new strain.

 Medics in protective suits carry a patient into Jinyintan hospital in Wuhan

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Medics in protective suits carry a patient into Jinyintan hospital in WuhanCredit: AFP or licensors

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The common early signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, according to WHO.

In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

This tends to be more common in people with cardiopulmonary disease, people with weakened immune systems, babies, and older adults.

Human-to-human transmission

The new Wuhan virus is known as a novel coronavirus (nCoV) as it has not been previously identified in humans – which also means there is little information on exactly how it’s transmitted or how it can develop.

As the early symptoms are similar to many other respiratory diseases, it can pose complications for screening efforts.

The origin of the virus has yet to be identified, but the WHO said the primary source was from an animal.

Meanwhile Chinese officials have linked the outbreak to a seafood market in Wuhan, which has since been closed as authorities investigated.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is an airborne virus, spread in a similar way to colds and the flu.

The virus attacks the respiratory system, causing lung lesions.

Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.

It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and 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 people with weakened immune systems.

There is no vaccine for coronavirus.

In 2003 an outbreak of a similar virus, SARS, infected more than 8,000 people in 37 countries before it was brought under control, killing 800 of those worldwide.

However, officials now believe it has mutated, allowing it to be transmitted from person to person – which could make the virus spread more rapidly and more widely.

Human transmission is most commonly spread through the air by coughing or sneezing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But it can also spread through close contact, such as touching or shaking hands.

Doctors also say that it can be transmitted by touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

Health warnings

The WHO has offered its standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs.

It also warns that people should avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Based on current information, the global agency has yet to restrict trade or travel to the region.

It comes as a man, from Brisbane, was placed in quarantine after displaying signs of the killer bug following a family holiday in Wuhan.

He is currently waiting at home to hear if he has contracted the illness which has already claimed the lives of four people.

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government will be raising the level of travel advice for Wuhan City to level 2 — which means travellers should “exercise a high degree of caution”.

International airports are screening passengers for the mysterious disease while a video was shared widely on Twitter showing people on a domestic flight out of the central Chinese city of Wuhan having their temperature taken one-by-one by people in protective suits.

A Brit tourist, Ash Shorley, 32, is feared to be the first western victim of the illness.

He was rushed to hospital after the bug infected both lungs while he was on Koh Phi Phi island in Thailand.

Meanwhile NHS chiefs have warned that the bug could reach Britain – and doctors are said to be on high alert.

China air passengers screened before leaving plane by medics in hazmat suits sparking fears of coronavirus spreading globally





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