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Coronavirus: What we know as virus hits UK

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Coronavirus cases in the UK are climbing and now the first has been confirmed in Kent.

Globally more than 3,000 have been killed by the respiratory condition and 90,000 infected, although most casualties are confined to central China from which the virus stems.

Coronavirus has spread to the UK
Coronavirus has spread to the UK

Italy is now the epicentre of the outbreak in Europe with more than 1,000 cases, while as off March 2 there are 39 in the UK.

More than 200 Brits have been flown back from epicentre city Wuhan on two government chartered planes in recent weeks and were quarantined for 14 days.

The sprawling metropolis of Wuhan in the central region of Hubei is home to 11 million people and has been at the centre of the outbreak since it was first recorded in late December.

To date more than 3,000 have died, all bar a few dozen in China, and the virus has now spread to every one of the nation's five regions, home to 1.4 billion people or about a sixth of the world's population.

In total 70 million people have been quarantined - more than the entire population of the UK.

Globally 90,000 cases have been reported, most of which have been confined to Hubei, and 44 countries have recorded infections.

Dr Julian Spinks on KMTV earlier this week

The World Health Organisation in January declared it an international public health emergency.

It is now more widespread than respiratory condition SARS, which originated in China in 2002, and has killed more people.

More than a dozen nations including the US and Australia have imposed travel bans stopping people entering if they have recently been to China.

Hospitals are on stand by
Hospitals are on stand by

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a type of viruses which includes SARS but also most respiratory problems including the common cold.

The name stems from the Latin corona (crown) due to the appearance of the virus under a microscope.

They are transmitted from animals, SARS coming from cats and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) from camels.

This strain, officially named Covid-19 was discovered in late December, and while little is known about it human-to-human transmission has occurred.

It's not known for sure where it came from but Chinese authorities have pointed the finger at a seafood market in Wuhan where wildlife, including wolves, pangolins and porcupines, were illegally sold.

Snakes and bats have both been suggested as the culprits.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms include fevers, coughs and breathing difficulties but the virus can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and in severe cases death.

The incubation period - the length of time before symptoms show themselves - could be as long as two weeks.

How worried should we be?

It is more widespread than SARS - which was eventually stopped by a similar process of isolating victims - and as off Sunday, February 9, is more deadly.

SARS killed 800 people, 300 in China. MERS killed 858 people in 2012, a third of all those who caught it.

The mortality rate for Covid-19 is around 1%, compared to 0.1% for influenza (flu)

It is most deadly to the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, whereas children tend to be more tolerant due to increased exposure to more common coughs and sneezes.

The most worrying thing is there is to date no cure for coronaviruses. Historically quarantining seems to have worked.

So far it has spread to many Asian countries, as well as Australia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.

What is being done?

A vaccine is being worked on with some saying it could be here by summer, which may seem like a long time but it took 20 months before a cure for SARS was ready for testing.

In the meantime Wuhan has been sealed off and airports worldwide have employed screening measures.

Meanwhile if you experience any symptoms and have recently been to an affected area you are advised to self-isolate for 14 days.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest developments with your local hospitals and other health stories, click here.

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