Coronavirus: The Facts

Coronavirus: The Facts

Published by George Sharpe at 2:40pm 3rd March 2020. (Updated at 7:31am 4th March 2020)

Everything you need to know about coronavirus so far.

So far, 51 people in the UK are among the almost 90,000 that have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus worldwide.

In the UK 13,911 people have been tested for the illness so far. 13,860 came back negative.

Here's what you need to know:

What are the symptoms?

Coronavirus, aka COVID-19, is a new illness that affects your lungs and airways.

It's sympoms are:

  • A cough
  • High Temperature
  • Shortness of breath

The World Health Organisation says in more serious these symptoms may appear:

  • Pneumonia
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  • Kidney failure

Most patients experience mild illness but severe cases may require intensive care. 

Will it come to Dorset?

There's no way to predict whether or not the coronavirus will spread to the county but it's currently predicted that the virus will spread across the country.

Yesterday, it was confirmed a student at Churston Ferrers Grammar School in Devon tested positive for the illness.

Symptoms can take up to 14 days to present (most commonly 5 days), and lots of people only present minor symptoms. But the government insists it's prepared for the spread of the virus.

The government today announced it's action plan to focus emergency services in the event of a mass outbreak of the virus. It could include reducing police to dealing only with very serious crimes and maintaining public order in the event of a mass outbreak. NHS services could also be closed to all but critical care.

In a worst case scenario, says the Prime Minister, the army could be drafted in.

Boris Johnson said in a statement:

"I think it's very important to stress that this is a problem that I think is likely to become more significant for this country in the next days and weeks.

"This country is very well prepared.

"We've got a fantastic NHS, fantastic testing systems, amazing surveillance of the spread of disease."

How can I keep safe?

It's not fully known how the coronavirus is spread, since it's a new virus, but similar viruses are known to spread through cough droplets. 

COVID-19 can be caught through small droplets from the nose or mouth which spreads when a person with the disease coughs or exhales. These drops land on surfaces around the person and can be picked up when people touch these surfaces and touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

It's not known how long the virus can survive on surfaces.

There are a few ways to prevent catching or spreading viruses:

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough of sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately
  • wash you hands with soap and water often - use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water aren't available
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren't clean
  • stay more than 1 meter away from a person who is sick

If you're worried you might have the illness you should call 111. NHS advice is NOT to go to your GP or A&E unless it's an emergency.

What is self-isolation?

You might be asked to stay away from other people if there's a chance you have the illness.

If you are, you should:

  • stay at home
  • don't go to work, school or public areas
  • don't use public transport or taxis
  • avoid visitors to your home

It's fine to ask friends, family members and delivery services to run errands for you, like shopping.

You can find the government's official advice for the public on their website.