Should we be worried about the Wuhan coronavirus? Here’s what we know so far

Should we be worried about the Wuhan coronavirus? Here’s what we know so far

China's National Health Commission has confirmed the first examples of the deadly Wuhan Coronavirus spreading from human to human.

More than 200 cases of the disease have been confirmed so far with instances also being reported in Japan, Thailand and South Korea, with medical workers among those affected.

But should the average person be worried about the virus? Here's what we know about it so far...

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses tend to come from animals or seafood. Many of the people who’ve contracted the virus so far in China work in close proximity to fish markets or are health workers. This strain of the virus is different to any that have been encountered before, which partly why it’s making headlines now.

What are the symptoms?

Those who have been infected are reported to suffer coughs, high temperatures and breathlessness. The virus also causes pneumonia, but because it’s a viral pneumonia antibiotics are unlikely to be of use.

Have there been similar viruses before?

You might remember that there was an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in China over a decade ago. The virus ended up spreading to 37 countries, causing a huge panic and infecting more than 8,000 people. Sars is caused by coronaviruses that came from animals, just like Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers), which you might also have heard of.

Does it kill people?

A person’s recovery will depend on their immune system and if they have any other health issues. People who’ve died so far are known to have had pre-existing health issues, so those in good health are less at risk.

Can you catch it from people?

The Chinese authorities have confirmed that this strain of the virus has been passed from person to person.

Should we be worried?

Right now, it seems that people in good health who don’t work near seafood and aren't in direct contact with the virus are likely to be largely unaffected. But with people travelling because of Chinese New Year, it’s possible that the virus could spread.

H/T: Guardian / Independent

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