BRITS are being urged to be alert to the signs and symptoms of coronavirus – as the deadly new bug continues to sweep the globe.
The number of cases of Covid-19 in the UK has surged to 321 – with experts warning of a "worst-case scenario" of 100,000 deaths.
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Covid-19 is believed to be spread via droplets produced from coughs and sneezes as well as touching surfaces.
Britain's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty said droplets can survive on bus and train handrails for up to three days.
Health bosses have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate as one top expert admitted we have "lost track of who has it".
Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, said: “We no longer know where the virus is.
"You could catch it from anyone, anywhere, anytime — in your supermarket, coffee shop, petrol station or pub.”
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus is the name for a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS.
The new disease that emerged in Wuhan, China in December, was named Covid-19, by the World Health Organisation- and has never been seen in humans before the current outbreak.
Coronavirus attacks the respiratory system, causing pneumonia-like lung lesions.
The new strain is thought to have jumped from bats to humans, via a possible but unknown animal, in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from catching Covid-19 is to be aware of the symptoms.
Here, we take you through the early warning signs to be aware of, how to protect yourself and when to get medical help…
What are the early warning signs?
As Covid-19 is a new virus, experts are still working to understand it.
According to the NHS and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the most common symptoms of coronavirus infection usually include:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea – but these are usually mild and begin gradually.
Developing these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have the illness and they are similar to other illnesses, such as the common cold or flu.
Some people will not develop all of these symptoms – and some might not even show symptoms at all, experts say.
Around one out of every six who gets Covid-19 become seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing, according to the WHO.
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness.
This can include pneumonia and swelling in the lungs, which can make it hard for the lungs to pass oxygen into the bloodstream – leading to organ failure and death.
Severe pneumonia can kill people by causing them to "drown" in the fluid flooding their lungs.
People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention, the WHO says.
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