It’s still uncertain how deadly coronavirus – or Covid-19 is, or whether it can be stopped before turning into a global pandemic.

Similar to seasonal flu, the virus is more likely to kill the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, but some reports have stated that a number of healthy young doctors have died too, which is worrying.

For over 80 per cent of people the virus will manifest like a common cold, with mild symptoms, whereas severe cases will experience the virus attacking the lungs and causing pneumonia.

How can coronavirus be stopped?

The British government and WHO are still hoping the disease can be contained and isolated, with the help of Public Health England’s nine regional teams.

They are working to spot any cases quickly, whilst isolating affected individuals, and following up any contacts to make sure they do not spread the deadly bug if they’ve been infected.

The 15 UK coronavirus cases confirmed so far have all involved infection abroad, with no transmission within the UK.

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So far the containment strategy has been working well, but even if it loses effectiveness, it will have bought the UK time while scientists work towards developing a vaccine.

England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty told The BBC: ‘We basically have a strategy which depends upon four tactical aims: the first one is to contain; the second of these is to delay; the third of these is to do the science and the research; and the fourth is to mitigate so we can brace the NHS.’

Considering the NHS is currently in the middle of its most difficult winter for a generation, mitigation aims to reduce the disease’s impact on society, so services don’t become overwhelmed.

There are six specialist ‘high consequence’ units treating coronavirus patients, with tools such as air filters and plastic tenting around the bed to avoid contamination. Another 20-plus regional infectious disease units are on standby to assist patients if numbers increase.

Isolation pods can also be found in all hospitals, in case an infected patient enters, although the official advice is to call NHS 111 and self-isolate.

In the case of a China-style widespread outbreak, assessments would determine which patients could stay at home and self-isolate, and hospitals could start cancelling routine treatments to offer spare capacity for coronavirus patients.

According to reports seen by The Sun, the government’s ‘worst-case’ plans predict 80 per cent of Brits could become infected, of which two per cent – 500,000 people – could die.

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What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The virus starts with a fever, followed by a dry cough, and then a week later, those infected may experience a shortness of breath with some requiring hospital treatment.

Other symptoms include tiredness and muscle pain.

As it is a viral illness, antibiotics will not help and there is no known cure.

Hospitals are trying to relieve the symptoms with aspirin, ibuprofen or other cold and flu remedies, with the most severely ill being treated using ECMO specialist equipment if their lungs fail.

Is there a vaccine?

No – currently there is no vaccine against coronavirus.

Researchers at Imperial College London are developing a vaccine, and believe they’re the first to begin the animal testing phase as teams around the world compete to stop the spread of the virus.

Doctor Paul McKay told the Agence France-Presse: ‘Perhaps by the end of this year there will be a viable tested vaccine that would be suitable for use in people.’

However, it is hoped the existing research on the SARS coronavirus almost two decades ago could speed up the process.

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