Published: 10:52, 03 March 2020
| Updated: 09:22, 04 April 2020
Bosses at Public Heath England (PHE) are continuing to monitor and give advice on the cornonavirus pandemic which started in Wuhan, China, in late December and has now gripped the UK.
As cases soar in the UK and the World Health Organization declares it a pandemic, here is everything you need to know about Covid-19.
What is coronavirus and should you be concerned?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.
Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough which may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
What are the signs and symptoms of this virus?
The symptoms of the new coronavirus (known as COVID-19) includes fever and respiratory symptoms including coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.
How does this new coronavirus spread?
Because it's a new illness, heath chiefs say they do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets or sneeze droplets.
How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors; for example, what surface the virus is on, whether it is exposed to sunlight, differences in temperature and humidity and exposure to cleaning products.
What can you do to reduce my risk of catching coronavirus?
If leaving the house always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.
Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals but there’s very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings. Facemasks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly and disposed of safely in order to be effective.
If you live in the area where coronavirus patients are reported as coming from - are you at extra risk?
To ensure someone with coronavirus doesn’t put others at risk is by treating them in isolation and carefully investigating who they had close contact with through contact tracing.
If a person tests positive for coronavirus, health bosses speak to the patient to identify anyone who has who has had close contact with them during the time they are considered to be infectious and go all out to find these people as soon as possible.
Once health chiefs have contacted them they can then give them the advice they need.
What does lockdown mean, why are we in it and how long will it last?
On March 23 Boris Johnson announced a lockdown, meaning you should only leave your house if absolutely essential.
People can go out for supplies, an hour of exercise a day, to deliver supplies to elderly or vulnerable relatives or for exercise once a day.
Those not living with each other are expected to follow social distancing rules which include staying two metres away from others.
The reasons for these measures, which include schools being shut for all but the children of key workers, are to delay the peak of the virus.
It was feared that without strict measures an avalanche of infections would overwhelm an NHS already strained by usual winter flu and illness cases.
Lockdown should reduce person-to-person contact and stem the spread meaning that the pandemic doesn't peak in the UK until around Easter.
The indications show as of Monday, March 30, the peak is expected in two to three weeks with case numbers then stabilising before gradually decreasing.
Most experts believe lockdown measures could be in place for two to three months to avoid a second peak and on Sunday, March 29, it was warned normality may not resume until October and potentially later.
The lockdown will be reviewed every three weeks.
This article is constantly being updated to make it as up-to-date as possible.
More by this authorLynn Cox
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