Is it just droplets from the nose and mouth that spread the new virus?
Probably not, but they are by far the most common risk.
The NHS and WHO are advising doctors that the virus is also likely to be contained in other bodily secretions including blood, faeces and urine.
Here again, hand and surface hygiene is the key.
How can I protect my family, especially children?
Children are a major vector for the spread of droplet-based viruses because they interact physically so much with each other and are not the best at keeping themselves clean.
The virus appears to impact older people more commonly but children can be infected and they can get severe illness, the government warns.
However, you can greatly lower the risk that children pose of spreading or catching viruses by:
Explaining to them how germs spread and the importance of good hand and face hygiene
Ensuring that they stick to the rules on social distancing so no meeting up with friends however bored they are getting
Keeping household surfaces clean, especially kitchens, bathrooms, door handles and light switches
Using clean or disposable cloths to wipe surfaces so you don’t transfer germs from one surface to another
Giving everyone their own towel and making sure they know not to share toothbrushes etc
Keep your home dry and airy (bugs thrive in musty environments)
The Government is advising that people stay at home and practise social distancing. Stay at least three metres away from other people.
Do not go to work unless it’s essential.
Are some groups of people more at risk than others?
Data from China suggests that people of all ages are at risk of contracting the virus, although older people are more likely to develop serious illness.
People with a reduced chance of surviving pneumonia include:
Of the first 425 confirmed deaths across mainland China, 80 per cent were in people over the age of 60, and 75 per cent had some form of underlying disease.
However, young people are not “invincible” as the WHO has warned and they must follow official advice.
Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?
There is currently no vaccine, but scientists around the world are racing to produce one thanks to China’s prompt sharing of the virus’s genetic code.
However, any potential vaccine will not be available for up to a year and would be most likely to be given to health workers most at risk of contracting the virus first. In addition, researchers in China believe that the virus may have mutated into two strains, one of which is highly aggressive, making a search for a vaccine more difficult.
For now, it is a case of containment and increasing hospital capacity to treat patients. The UK government’s conornavirus action plan aims to delay and flatten the epidemic curve of the disease to avoid the NHS from becoming overwhelmed as happened in Wuhan.
Capacity to treat patients who require hospital care is already becoming a major challenge for the NHS – this is what has prompted the government lockdown. Do your bit to help slow down the outbreak by following the advice above.