Health

What is coronavirus and how does Covid-19 virus spread?


CORONAVIRUS has killed more than 32,000 people to date and infected at least 683,000 others.

But what is coronavirus, how does it spread and what are the disease symptoms?

⚠️ Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates

1

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.

They include:

  • a runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • fever
  • shortness of breath
  • chills
  • 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.

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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