February 06, 2020

What Exactly is Coronavirus?

The Coronaviruses (CoV) are from a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory illness and difficulty breathing.
These viruses can be transmitted between animals and people and the new Coronavirus which was initially discovered in Wuhan, China in December 2019, is believed to have potentially originated from a bat. This virus is now  transmissible from human to human. It appears to be evolving.

Over the last few weeks, the 2019 novel coronavirus has spread at a rapid rate. Not enough is currently known about this new virus although virologists worldwide are working to better understand this new coronavirus strain and how to develop a vaccine against it.

China has quarantined circa 100 million people to prevent its spread although globally, there are now several hundred confirmed cases; including several confirmed cases across the UK.

Statisticians, Epidemiologists and Virologists in the UK believe the true number of infections across Mainland China is far greater than what has been verified. As of Tuesday 18th February, over 70,000 individuals have been diagnosed with the 2019 novel coronavirus and over 1800 individuals have died.

How do you catch it?

The main concern for this virus, lies with the incubation period, which appears to be anywhere between 2 -14 days. Transmission from droplets of saliva, sneezing, body fluids including vomit and diarrhoea.

During the incubation period and prior to eliciting symptoms, carriers of the Wuhan Coronavirus are infectious and can pass it on.

What are the initial symptoms?

What are the initial symptoms?

  1. A Fever
  2. Fatigue
  3. Sore throat
  4. Dry cough
  5. Runny Nose
  6. Chills
  7. Body Ache
  8. Headache

So, very similar to the usual flu. As the illness progresses, patients may experience difficulty breathing and shortness of breath.

Some of the symptoms of the novel Coronavirus

The elderly and those with any underlying chronic health conditions are most at risk.

There is no current treatments and no current vaccine to prevent this illness. Supportive treatments are required.

What is happening in the NHS?

NHS GPs and Doctors across the UK have been briefed on how to deal with patients with suspected Covid-19.

If you become unwell, the current Key Risk Factors for a diagnosis of this novel Coronavirus, include:

  • Recent travel to Wuhan, Hubei Province, China within the last 14 days.
  • You have been in contact with someone diagnosed with the Wuhan Coronavirus in the last 14 days
  • You have been in contact with someone who recently travelled or lived in the Wuhan Hubei Province, China, 14 days before illness.

Anyone who has been to mainland China in the last 14 days is now advised to self isolate themselves at home for 2 weeks.

Furthermore, if you have been to any of the following destinations over the last 14 days:

  • China
  • Thailand
  • Japan
  • Republic of Korea
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Macau

And have a sore throat, fever or shortness of breath, then you are advised to speak to NHS 111, your regular GP or one of our ZoomDoc GPs for further advice.

Public Health Advice

Bearing in mind, that we currently are mid flu season across the UK, and if none of the above risk factors apply, the vast likelihood is that you will not have this new virus.

Will Covid-19 become a pandemic?

The word pandemic should not be used lightly and one of the largest flu pandemics in recent history was in 1918, known as the Spanish Flu, caused by the H1N1 influenza virus.

It infected approximately 500 million people globally and between 50-100 million people are estimated to have died. 3-5% of the earths population at that time.

Dr Kenny Livingstone

Some of the other more recent pandemics include the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic and the Asian Flu Pandemic in 1957.

Only time will tell if Covid-19 will become the next pandemic but medical specialists are broadly concerned that this virus could spread far more quickly than we are currently prepared for and the likelihood, at present appears high.

Work has already started on a vaccine but this is unlikely to be ready until the Summer. The World Health Organisation are closely monitoring this virus and the International alert level was raised last week.

How do I protect myself and my family?

The key take home message to protect both yourself and your family is strict hand hygiene for both yourself and your children.

Washing hands regularly. If you sneeze, or have a cold, to always use a tissue and dispose of this safely. Then, once disposed, cleaning your hands throughly with soap and warm water. If your child is unwell, with flu like symptoms to avoid school until the symptoms settle.

Department of Health Patient Advice Campaign

If you, your child or family member have persistent high fevers or any difficulty breathing, then they are advised to seek medical advice either by calling 111 or contacting your GP.

Alternatively, our team of GPs are available Worldwide via the ZoomDoc app, 24/7 for instant telemedicine advice. 

There is undoubtedly, panic ensuing across mainland China, Asia and large parts of the world. The UK foreign office has now advised against all travel to mainland China.

UK, airports and ports have implemented strict screening methods to hopefully avoid widespread transmission and contact tracing.

Our Great team of Doctors at ZoomDoc are here to support and alleviate any fears or concerns that you or your family may have.

We are here to help and here to care.

Want to know more?

 Our team of Doctors are available 24/7 via the ZoomDoc App for any medical questions or queries you may have.