Coronavirus: Latest updates, symptoms and more

Read the latest developments in the coronavirus outbreak here. Here's what you need to know...

Latest Updates:

  • The UK is waking up to new, stricter measures announced by PM Boris Johnson
  • 514 more people die in Spain, the worst day yet
  • China announces 78 new cases - 74 of them from abroad
  • Wuhan - the city where the virus emerged - is to partially lift its lockdown next month
  • Donald Trump insists the US will "soon be open for business", despite more states shutting Dow
  • The most populous country without a case until now - Myanmar - announces two cases
  • Global cases: More than 390,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University
  • Global deaths: At least 17,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus has spread to more than 100 countries, including most countries in the European Union. 

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.  

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans. 

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. 

Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

What are the symptoms?

Who has been affected so far?

Coronavirus - a fast-moving infection originating in China and has spread to more than 100 countries and claimed more than 4,900 lives.

While the vast majority of cases are in China, the virus, which causes pneumonia-like symptoms, is now spreading faster outside the country than within. South Korea, Italy and Iran have the highest number of confirmed cases.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. Why waste a test kit on a person without symptoms?

Anyone who has had close contact with someone known to have coronavirus should ask a health care provider about getting tested and anyone who recently travelled to a part of the world where coronavirus is widespread should do the same.

Some people with coronavirus have mild or no symptoms. And in some cases, symptoms don't appear until up to 14 days after infection.

During that incubation period, it's possible to get coronavirus from someone with no symptoms. It's also possible you may have coronavirus without feeling sick and are accidentally infecting others.

Q. Can coronavirus go through the skin and into the body?

"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads," the CDC says.

More often than not, people get coronavirus through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. "These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs," the CDC says.

The World Health Organization recommends staying at least 1 meter away from anyone who may be infected.

Q. If a coronavirus patient does progress to pneumonia, what antibiotics if any have proven to be effective?

No antibiotics are effective against coronavirus because the disease is a viral infection, not a bacterial infection.

"However, if you are hospitalized for the [coronavirus], you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible," the World Health Organization says.

There is no known cure for the coronavirus yet. For now, coronavirus patients get "supportive" treatment, "which means giving fluids, medicine to reduce fever, and, in severe cases, supplemental oxygen," the Harvard Medical School states.

Scientists are working on developing a vaccine. But it will take months before clinical trials start, and more than a year before a vaccine could become available.

Q. If infected with coronavirus, can you survive it and recover?

Absolutely. The vast majority of people with coronavirus survive. Last week, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases estimated the death rate is "about 2%."

But the true death rate might be much lower, since some coronavirus survivors might not have been tested and might not have had their cases reported.

Q. After recovering from coronavirus, does the recovered patient have immunity to the virus?

It's too early to know for sure. But with "common cold coronaviruses, you don't actually have immunity that lasts for very long, and so we don't know the answer with this specific coronavirus," said Dr. Celine Gounder, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the New York University School of Medicine.

Q. Can wearing masks stop the spread of viruses?

Virologists are sceptical about their effectiveness against airborne viruses. But there is some evidence to suggest the masks can help prevent hand-to-mouth transmissions.

Dr David Carrington, of St George's, University of London, told BBC News "routine surgical masks for the public are not effective protection against viruses or bacteria carried in the air", which was how "most viruses" were transmitted, because they were too loose, had no air filter and left the eyes exposed. But they could help lower the risk of contracting a virus through the "splash" from a sneeze or a cough and provide some protection against hand-to-mouth transmissions.

Mane Grigoryan

Mane Grigoryan

Catch my attention with anything that involves politics, travelling and food. Just a curious journalist refusing to identify as a millennial.

Continue reading