Coronavirus: Questions and answers

PUBLISHED: 14:47 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:46 10 March 2020

An NHS catch it, bin it, kill it sign. Pic:  Philip Toscano/PA Wire

An NHS catch it, bin it, kill it sign. Pic: Philip Toscano/PA Wire

With cases of coronavirus continuing to rise in the UK, we have answered some of the most common questions surrounding the outbreak.

How many cases of coronavirus have there been globally?

There have been more than 111,000 infections worldwide, with about 3,890 deaths.

Italy has the largest number of coronavirus cases outside China, where the outbreak started.

Monday saw another 1,807 cases, bringing the total to 9,172. The death toll rose to 463, and the country's fatality rate is 5pc, above the 3pc to 4pc estimates elsewhere.

How many cases have there been in the UK?

The latest figures show that 373 people in the UK are now confirmed to have Covid-19, and six people have died in British hospitals.

A British man became the first UK citizen to die from coronavirus after being infected on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

There have not been any cases in Norfolk yet, but there has been one in Suffolk - someone who had recently returned from Italy.

What should people be doing to stem the spread?

Wash your hands with soap and water often - do this for at least 20 seconds

Wash your hands when you get home or into work

Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards

Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of coronavirus are a cough, high temperature and a shortage of breath.

But those symptoms are similar to other illnesses such as cold and flu.

What should I do if I think I might have it?

People who think they might have coronavirus should not go to GP surgeries, pharmacies or hospitals.

They should call 111 if they need to speak to somebody, while NHS 111 has an online service.

If there's a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).

That means staying at home, not going to work or school for up to 14 days.

The current guidance is that people only need to self-isolate if they have been advised to by a medical professional or the 111 online coronavirus service.

Anyone who has travelled to the UK from somewhere with a higher risk of coronavirus in the last fortnight might also need to seek advice. Locations include Italy, Tenerife, Thailand and China.

People with even minor respiratory tract infections or a fever could soon be asked to self-isolate as coronavirus continues to spread in the UK.

What does self-isolating mean?

If you are asked to self-isolate, this means you should stay at home, not go to work or school or visit public places and not use public transport or taxis.

If you live with other people, you should separate yourself from them and try not to be in the same room as them at the same time.

You should also think about a bathroom rota if a separate bathroom is not available, with the isolated person using the facilities last before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom.

You should not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with other people in your home.

If you live in shared accommodation such as university halls of residence, you should only use communal kitchens, bathrooms and living areas when necessary and take meals back to your room to eat.

If you are in self-isolation, you should ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you, such as getting groceries, medicines or other shopping.

Make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online.

What if an elderly relative living alone is told to self-isolate? Can I see them?

People in self-isolation should not invite or allow visitors to enter.

If you think there is an essential need for someone to visit, you should discuss it with your designated medical contact first.

If you receive a negative result and have had contact with a person known to have had Covid-19 you should remain in isolation until the end of the 14-day period.

When will the UK peak in coronavirus cases come?

The start of the UK peak of the coronavirus epidemic is expected within the next fortnight, England's deputy chief medical officer has said.

Dr Jenny Harries defended the government's decision to delay closing schools and the introduction of other stringent tactics, saying experts are assessing new cases on an hourly basis to achieve a 'balanced response'.

But new measures - including those aimed at protecting the elderly and vulnerable - are expected shortly as cases rise more rapidly across the UK.

Dr Harries said 'many thousands of people' would contract coronavirus as the disease continued to spread in the UK.

'We currently have relatively few cases here, which is why we are still in the containment phase,' she said.

'Obviously we will have significant numbers in a way in which the country is not used to.

'This is the sort of thing that professionally we're trained for and very rarely see, almost in a professional lifetime.

'Large numbers of the population will become infected because it's a naive population - nobody has got antibodies to this virus currently.

'We will see many thousands of people infected by coronavirus, that's what we're seeing in other countries, and the important thing for us is to make sure that we manage those infections.'

Will schools be closed?

The government has previously said closing schools could be an option during the 'delay' phase of dealing with coronavirus. However, no decisions have been taken yet. Ultimately, decisions could be made locally, after consultations with the Norfolk Resilience Forum, headteachers and public health, or the government could impose closures in certain or all areas.

Will sporting events be cancelled?

Sports bodies met with government ministers on Monday at a meeting chaired by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to discuss contingency plans in relation to Covid-19.

There has been talk that Premier League and English Football League games could be played behind closed doors, which is already happening in some other countries, but the government has yet to make a decision.

Italy has brought in tight controls on movement, would a lockdown work for the UK?

Professor Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia said a lockdown probably would not be appropriate here but that measures in this country are likely be stepped up as the disease progresses.

He said: 'We are currently seeing a much more gradual increase in numbers and these are already distributed throughout the UK, unlike the situation in Italy where cases were concentrated in a single region.

'More rigorous social distancing measures are likely to be implemented in the UK over coming days or weeks as case numbers increase. But the timing of their introduction will be chosen to hopefully maximise the benefit whilst minimising the harm to British society.'

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