Find the answer to common questions and concerns around the outbreak of the coronavirus.
You can recognise the term COVID-19, you’ve learned something about washing your hands whilst singing Happy Birthday twice, and you’ve heard mutterings about coronavirus being engineered in a lab.
You’ve probably heard soundbites on coronavirus every day for months now. But during outbreaks, it can be hard to separate reliable information from rumour.
We’ve put together information from agencies such as WHO, CDC, and the NHS to answer the most common concerns about coronavirus, its origin, and its impact.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth exploration of the disease, we’ve also partnered with The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, leading experts on infectious diseases, to develop a free online course, COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus.
You’ll learn more about what COVID-19 is, how it spreads, how we might tackle the virus, and the impact of the outbreak around the world.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a viral illness that affects your lungs and airways. The symptoms are:
- A dry cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
The symptoms are quite similar to a cold or flu, so if you have these symptoms it doesn’t definitely mean that you have coronavirus.
What should I do if I show symptoms of coronavirus?
If you’re exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus, have been in close contact with someone from an at-risk area, or have been in close contact with someone who has shown symptoms of coronavirus, it’s important that you call your local advice line to seek advice. Depending on your area, you may be advised to self-quarantine until you have received advice specific to your situation.
The next steps may change over time, and may vary depending on your location – in every instance, it is important that you temporarily self-quarantine until you have received official advice.
For more information, please check:
When should I self-quarantine?
You should self-quarantine if:
- You are showing symptoms of coronavirus and have not yet called your local advice line for further advice
- You’ve been in close contact with someone who shows symptoms of coronavirus
- You’ve been in close contact with someone who has recently been to a high-risk area for coronavirus
The list of high-risk areas is frequently updated here.
In the second and third instance, it is important to self-quarantine and call your local health service or advice centre for the next steps, even if you are not showing symptoms yet.
How long is the coronavirus incubation period?
The incubation period for coronavirus is currently estimated to be between 1-14 days but is generally around 5 days.
Who is most at risk from coronavirus?
The worst coronavirus outcomes have been seen in the elderly, people who already have chronic health conditions (particularly cardiovascular or respiratory disorders), and men have been slightly more negatively affected than women.
The Case Fatality Rate for people aged 80+ is 14.8%, falling to 1.3% for people aged 50-59, 0.4% for people aged 40-49, and 0.2% for people aged 10-39.
How can I prevent the spread of coronavirus?
It is important that everybody in affected areas works together to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
- Washing your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds.
- Washing your hands when you get home or into work, especially if you have used public transport.
- Using hand sanitizer gel if soap and water are not available.
- Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
- Disposing of used tissues straight away and washing your hands afterwards.
- Avoiding close contact with people who are unwell.
- Self-quarantining if you begin to feel unwell.
What is the death rate for coronavirus?
The current Case Fatality Rate for coronavirus, according to WHO, is 3.4%. This is far higher than the seasonal flu, which is estimated at 0.1%.
How deadly is coronavirus?
Coronavirus has a current Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 3.4%.
This makes it:
- More deadly than seasonal flu
- Less deadly than bird flu or avian flu
- More deadly than swine flu
- Less deadly than SARS
The CFR also varies depending on the age group – it is highest for people aged 80+, and lowest for people aged 10-39. There have also been geographical variations.
For further information, read our article on how the coronavirus compares to other outbreaks and pandemics.
What is the hospitalisation rate for coronavirus?
Around 17% of coronavirus cases become serious/critical and require hospitalisation. Day 7 of the illness is typically the worst for people whose illness becomes serious. After day 11, survivors of the illness are typically on their way to recovery.
What should I do if I need to go to a hospital?
If you are ill and feel that you require medical attention, call your official advice centre or hospital for advice before leaving your home. They will provide information on how to gain additional support without spreading the virus further.
For more information, please check here:
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus is quite a common illness and is most often responsible for the common cold. This particular coronavirus – COVID-19 – is a new (or novel) coronavirus that has not been previously identified. It likely originated in an animal and was spread to humans.
Where does coronavirus come from?
The first case of the 2019-2020 coronavirus was seen in the Wuhan province of China. It is likely that this coronavirus was passed on to humans from animals, such as pangolin, snakes, or bats, but the exact source has not yet been confirmed.
How do you get coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a new illness, so it’s difficult for experts to state exactly how it’s spread. However, it’s thought that it is mostly transmitted person-to-person, between people who are in close contact (within 6 feet) or through respiratory droplets when a sick person coughs or sneezes. These droplets are then inhaled and can cause illness.
Some people may transmit the illness before they show symptoms, but this is not the main way that this virus spreads.
It is also possible that respiratory droplets on surfaces such as doorknobs and tables can transmit the virus.
Can my cat/dog get coronavirus?
There is no current evidence that cats or dogs can be sick with coronavirus, although they can carry the illness. If you have been ill with or exposed to coronavirus, you should also keep your pets quarantined to avoid spreading the illness.
How long does coronavirus last?
Once a person is infected with the virus, the incubation period is typically 5 days before the onset of symptoms, but this can last anything from 1-14 days.
Flu-like symptoms are mild at first and usually get worse after 4 days. Some patients become critically ill around day 7, and survivors begin to feel better after day 11.
What is the treatment for coronavirus?
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus – antibiotics do not help as they do not work against viruses. Most treatments focus on the symptoms, to reduce temperature and help with coughing or shortness of breath.
How many cases of coronavirus are there?
At the time of writing this, there are 100,162 coronavirus cases around the world. You can see live figures here.
How many deaths have there been from coronavirus?
At the time of writing this, there have been 3,406 deaths from coronavirus. You can see live figures here.
How many people have recovered from coronavirus?
At the time of writing this, 55,812 people have recovered from coronavirus. You can see live figures here.
What percentage of the population have coronavirus?
At the time of writing this, 0.001% of the world population have or have had coronavirus.
Where can I learn more about coronavirus?
To avoid the spread of misinformation, it is important to learn about coronavirus from reliable sources.
For day to day updates on coronavirus, it is best to consult your local health agency.
If you would like in-depth information about coronavirus, how to prevent the spread, and how to react to similar outbreaks, courses from respected institutions are a good way to gain a better understanding of the subject. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have created a free course on COVID-19: Tackling the Novel Coronavirus, which is open for enrolment now.
Should I be worried about coronavirus?
It is natural to be worried about outbreaks and everybody in affected areas should take reasonable measures to prevent the spread of the disease. However, it is best to review your current risk regularly without exaggerating the dangers.
There is no need to panic-buy items, overuse antibiotic soaps, or completely isolate yourself if you have not experienced any symptoms or been in contact with people/places that have.
How many people are going to get coronavirus?
There have been various projections since the outbreak – a Harvard University epidemiologist stated that 40-70% of the global population may become infected with coronavirus – this is more than the proportion of people who were infected with swine flu or Spanish flu. Projections are updated regularly.
Do masks prevent the spread of coronavirus?
According to WHO, masks are not necessary to prevent the spread of coronavirus. You should only wear a mask if:
- You are caring for a person infected with coronavirus
- You are coughing or sneezing
- It is used in combination with frequent hand cleaning
- You know how to use and dispose of it properly
For more information on how to use masks, please see the official WHO guidance.
Is coronavirus antibiotic-resistant?
Coronavirus is a virus and therefore does not respond to antibiotics. This does not mean that it has become resistant – it is not the type of illness that is ever treated with antibiotics.
Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?
At the time of writing this, there is not a vaccine for this strain of coronavirus. Researchers are currently testing a vaccine on animals, and it may be available for human trials later in the year.
Does coronavirus come from Corona beer?
No, despite the name coronavirus has no relation to corona beer.