THE coronavirus pandemic has affected thousands of people around the world – with cases in over one hundred countries.
And in the UK alone, the confirmed number of those infected with Covid-19 now stands at over 25,000 with the death toll rising to 1,829.
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What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus is the name for a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS.
The new disease that emerged in China in December has never been seen in humans before the current outbreak.
It's been called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) by the World Health Organisation and causes an illness that's now named Covid-19.
The new strain is thought to have jumped from bats to humans, via a possible but unknown animal, in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
What are the early warning signs?
As Covid-19 is a new virus, experts are still working to understand it.
However, health officials say the most common symptoms of coronavirus infection usually include:
- A dry cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
Some people will not develop all of these symptoms – and some might not even show symptoms at all, experts say.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific adviser, said: "It looks quite likely that there is some degree of asymptomatic transmission.
"There’s definitely quite a lot of transmission very early in the disease when there are very mild symptoms."
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Around one out of every six who gets Covid-19 become seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing, according to the WHO.
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are at most risk developing serious illness.
This can include pneumonia and swelling in the lungs, which can make it hard for the lungs to pass oxygen into the bloodstream – leading to organ failure and death.
Severe pneumonia can kill people by causing them to "drown" in the fluid flooding their lungs.
People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention, the WHO says.
How does coronavirus differ from flu?
The symptoms of coronavirus are similar to other respiratory illnesses such as the flu and the common cold.
However, with the flu, symptoms can come on much quicker than with coronavirus.
According to the NHS, signs of flu include:
- A sudden fever – a temperature of 38C or above
- An aching body
- Feeling tired or exhausted
- A dry cough
- A sore throat
- A headache
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhoea or tummy pain
- Feeling sick and being sick
You can treat yourself for flu by getting rest and staying warm.
Taking paracetamol or ibuprofen can lower your temperature and treat aches and pains.
Drinking plenty of water will help avoid dehydration.
The flu vaccine reduces the risk of catching flu, as well as spreading it to others.
It's more effective to get the vaccine before the start of the flu season, which tends to run from December to March.
How quickly do coronavirus symptoms come on?
The virus is believed to be transmitted between people through droplets spread from coughing and touching or shaking hands.
While sneezing is not a symptom of the new coronavirus, it also thought to be a way that droplets can be spread.
Symptoms are thought to appear between two and 11 days.
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