Coronavirus: The symptoms, advice and treatment - here's everything you need to know

With the death toll rising and fears continuing to grow across the world as the coronavirus spreads, global health authorities have issued advice to those who think they may have been infected.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 1:12 pm
Updated Monday, 27th January 2020, 1:36 pm

The UK Government has reassured the public that the current risk remains low, and is continuing to monitor the situation closely.

Here's everything you need to know about the virus:

What is the coronavirus?

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People wear masks following the outbreak of a new virus as people arrive from the International terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.
People wear masks following the outbreak of a new virus as people arrive from the International terminal at Toronto Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.

Coronaviruses are a family of respiratory viruses that can cause mild symptoms similar to the common cold, through to more serious conditions such Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) or Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the coronavirus gets its name from the crown-like spikes on its surface derived from the Latin Corona.

What are the main symptoms?

Common reported symptoms since the outbreak, include; runny nose, cough, fever and shortness of breath.

How does the virus spread?

Initially it was unclear how the virus was spread, however, human-to-human transmission was confirmed on January 24, 2020.

How can I protect myself from the virus and prevent spreading it further?​

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued the following advice to help prevent the spread of the virus:

• Clean hands regularly using alcohol-based hand wash or soap and water.

• Cover your mouth with your hand or a tissue when coughing and sneezing – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.

• Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough.

• If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical advice as early as possible and share previous travel history with your doctor.

• When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.

• Avoid eating raw or undercooked animal products.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

• Stay home when you are sick.

Can the virus be treated?

There is no specific treatment for the virus.

Authorities are advising anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

What advice is being given to the NHS?

• GPs have been told to isolate patients and call health protection teams if they suspect a patient has coronavirus.

• Hospitals have been urged by Public Health England (PHE) to check their equipment, supplies and procedures.

• This includes checking they have respirators that staff can wear if dealing with a patient in isolation.

• They should also stock protective clothing such as gloves with long tight-fitting cuffs, disposable and fluid-resistant full-sleeve gowns and single-use goggles.

• Plenty of clinical waste bags, hand hygiene supplies and chlorine-based disinfectant solutions should also be in stock.