Coronavirus: What are the symptoms to look out for?

Good personal hygiene is most effective way of reducing chances of contracting virus

From what we know so far, the first symptoms of the coronavirus tend to be a fever followed by a dry cough. There are also likely to be headaches and other muscular aches and pains.

After the fever and the cough, many of those who contract the illness develop shortness of breath and sometimes other, more serious breathing difficulties. In the most severe cases, there can be also organ failure.

Based on the information that is available now, the illness has a mortality rate of about 2 per cent. That rate is based on data from the epicentre of the outbreak in the Chinese province of Hubei. The mortality rate appears to be less in some other countries. The mortality rate of seasonal flu is significantly lower, about 0.1 per cent.

Covid-19 is contained in sneeze or cough droplets and can be spread if people come into close contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing or if they touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on to.

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Conflicting reports

It is a new illness, which means it remains unclear just how easily it spreads and whether or not people who have no symptoms can pass it on to others. There are conflicting reports about how long the virus can survive on surfaces.

The single most effective way of reducing your chances of contracting the virus is good personal hygiene.

People should wash their hands with soap or gel regularly, cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing, avoid touching their faces and should keep their distance (at least one metre) from people who are coughing, sneezing or running a fever.

It is also important to clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Simple household disinfectants can kill the virus on surfaces.

According to the HSE, people should not wear a face mask unless they are feeling unwell and have symptoms.

The only people who should consider wearing face masks are those who have or may have coronavirus, people in close contact with someone who has or may have it and healthcare workers in close contact with people who have or may have it.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor