Here’s What We Know So Far About The Coronavirus Outbreak

Graeme Demianyk

The coronavirus outbreak, which appears to have originated in eastern China, has killed 25 people and infected nearly 830. Millions have effectively been quarantined as cities in China have been put on lockdown to halt the spread of the disease.

In the UK, 14 people have been tested with five confirmed negative and nine still awaiting the results.

But, crucially, no-one has yet been diagnosed with the illness. England’s chief medical officer has said the risk to the UK population is “low”.

Amid heightened global concern, here’s everything we know.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars).

The strain that has recently emerged is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans and is referred to clinically as 2019-nCoV.

How did coronavirus start?

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people, the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

The first cases identified were among people connected to the now-closed Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, a city with a population of 11 million people.

Cases have since been identified elsewhere which could have been spread through human-to-human transmission. 

Chinese passengers, most wearing masks, arrive to board trains before the annual Spring Festival at a Beijing railway station. 

How does coronavirus spread?

Questions remain about the outbreak’s nature and mode of transmission.

Chinese government expert Zhong Nanshan revealed on state television that human-to-human transmission had been confirmed.

WHO says some coronaviruses can be transmitted in this way, usually after close contact with an infected person, for example, in a household workplace, or healthcare centre.

Dr Nathalie MacDermott, National Institute for Health Research academic clinical lecturer, King’s College London, said: “While data is still limited it appears likely that the Wuhan coronavirus is spread through contact with an infected person’s secretions and respiratory droplet...

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