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What is coronavirus – and what is the Mortality Rate?

Covid-19 essential guide: can it be caught on public transport, how is it different from the flu, and how sick will I get?

What do we know about the virus now?

The Covid-19 virus is a member of the coronavirus family that made the jump from animals to humans late last year. Unusually for a virus that has made the jump from one species to another, it appears to transmit effectively in humans. The virus also appears to have a higher mortality rate than common illnesses such as seasonal flu

How can I stop myself and others from getting infected?

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and do this often, including when you get home or into work. Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available. Avoid touching your face. Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the crook of your elbow (not your hand) and put used tissues straight in the bin. Avoid close contact with people who are showing possible symptoms

If I get coronavirus, how sick will I get?

A large study in China found that about 80% of confirmed cases had fairly mild symptoms (defined as no significant infection in the lungs). About 15% had severe symptoms that caused significant shortness of breath, low blood oxygen or other lung problems, and fewer than 5% of cases were critical, featuring respiratory failure, septic shock or multiple organ problems. 

What is the mortality rate of the new coronavirus?

It is probably about or a bit less than 1%

Can you get infected on public transport?

Most infections happen in families, where people live at close quarters. You need to be within one to two metres of somebody to be infected by viral-loaded water droplets from their coughs or when they are speaking. That is less likely on public transport. However, it would be possible to pick up the virus on your hands from a surface that somebody with the infection had touched. The virus can linger for 48 hours or even possibly 72 hours on a hard surface

Is there a cure for Covid-19?

Not at the moment, but drugs that are known to work against some viruses are being trialled in China, where there are thousands of patients, and new trials are starting in the US and other countries

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