Coronavirus outbreaks are continuing across the globe, with 115 cases now confirmed in the UK. On Thursday, a woman with underlying health conditions became the first person in the UK to die after testing positive for coronavirus. The woman was being treated at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and is believed to have caught the virus in the UK.
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As the number of cases continues to rise across the globe, can we expect the outbreaks to end come the summer months?
COVID-19, the strain of coronavirus currently infecting people, will likely end up being a seasonal infection, much like other coronaviruses, according to Professor Stephen Turner of Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute, Monash University.
He explained: “Given many people have been previously exposed and are likely immune, then spread of these seasonal coronaviruses is more likely during winter months where conditions and behaviours favour transmission (e.g. a higher density of people staying indoors and in close proximity more often during the winter).
“However, before this the nCoV2019 will still have to run its course (i.e. spread globally). Once immunity is established in the broad population, it will likely go seasonal.”
A major reason for worry at the moment, according to professor Turner, is the scale of new infections.
He said: “The global population is susceptible given this is a new virus introduced into human circulation and capable of human to human transmission.
“While most people will only get mild symptoms (or even no symptoms), there will be a small fraction of individuals who will react severely.
“This equates to a large number of people if the majority of the population is susceptible.”
He added: “Given the rapid spread, an uncontrolled outbreak can easily overwhelm health services (there are only a certain number of beds in ICUs to help people with severe respiratory disease).
“Slowing the spread therefore might not stop people getting infected but it will help authorities cope with those with severe infection.”
To help slow down the spread of coronavirus, health officials are urging people to practice good hygiene.
The NHS is advising people to wash their hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds.
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People should always wash their hands when they get home or into work, and use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water aren’t available.
The health body also advises covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
You should put used tissues int he bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards, and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
You should avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
How do you know if you have coronavirus and need medical help?
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
NHS 111 has an online coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.
The NHS says you should use this service if:
- You think you might have coronavirus
- In the last 14 days you’ve been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus – see our coronavirus advice for travellers
- You’ve been in close contact with someone with coronavirus
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