Coronavirus: The most Googled questions - and the answers

As cases of the coronavirus continue to increase across the globe and infect more countries, more of you have had questions around the outbreak.

More people are now searching for information on the virus on Google than they are for Brexit.

Here are answers to the most common questions on the coronavirus.

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses causing illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

This particular strand, which originated in Wuhan, China has been labelled Covid-19. It causes respiratory issues and can be fatal.

‘Corona’ means crown in Latin, which is why the virus is called coronavirus – reflecting its crown-like projections.

How many people have died from coronavirus?

The number of people sickened by the virus has climbed to more than 86,000 globally and there have been nearly 3,000 deaths, most of them in China.

The total number of reported cases in China stands at 80,026 with 2,912 deaths in all.

More than 30 have died in Italy, which has the highest number of cases in Europe at around 1,700.

None has died in the UK, although one British man on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan died from the virus at the end of February.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

A paramedic walks out of a tent that was set up in front of the emergency ward of the Cremona hospital, northern Italy. Credit: AP

According to the NHS, the symptoms of coronavirus are a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath.

Since these symptoms are those for a variety of illnesses, such as commons colds and flu, if you have them you do not necessarily have Covid-19.

Public Health England (PHE) said the virus may progress to more severe illnesses, such as pneumonia.

Older patients and those with underlying health conditions are more likely to progress to severe disease.

How many cases of coronavirus in UK?

As of March 2, there were 36 confirmed cases in the UK, although this is subject to change as people are tested each day.

Public Health England provides updated figures each day in the early afternoon.

How is coronavirus spread?

Because it's a new illness, it is not yet known exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long, the NHS says.

According to scientists, coughs and sneezes can travel several feet and stay suspended in the air for up to 10 minutes.

It is thought Covid-19 can be transmitted before symptoms appear, making it easy to spread.

Where is the coronavirus?

The virus has spread to 65 countries, as of March 2.

Confirmed cases across the world. Credit: PA Graphics/AP

How did the coronavirus start?

On December 31 last year, the World Health Organization was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.

On January 12, Covid-19 was identified in samples obtained from cases.

Initial analysis suggested that this was the cause of the outbreak and it is thought to have originated from an illegal wildlife market, possibly from a pangolin (a scaly anteater which is prized in China for its use in traditional medicine).

Is there a cure for coronavirus?

There is currently no specific treatment for the coronavirus.

Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses, and treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

The NHS advice is to stay in isolation and away from other people until you've recovered.

Work is being done to create a vaccine, but one is weeks, if not months, away.

How long does coronavirus last?

It can take as little as two days for symptoms to start showing, but this can also take as long as 14 days.

This is why the advice is to self-isolate for 14 days – to be sure you are not infected.

Recovery time varies depending on the age and health of the person infected and for people who are not severely ill it may be similar to the aftermath of a flu.

People with mild symptoms could recover within a matter of days, while those with pneumonia may need weeks.

Death rates are estimated to be around 1%.