By Natalie Rahhal, Acting US Health Editor for DailyMail.com
HOW DANGEROUS IS CORONAVIRUS?
About 14 percent of people who contract the Covid-19 coronavirus are taken to hospital – with severe symptoms including breathing problems and pneumonia. About 5 per cent need intensive care.
But the majority who get the virus suffer nothing more than a cough and may never know they are infected.
So far, some 51,000 people around the world have already recovered from coronavirus – and that just includes the numbers who received a diagnosis.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DIE?
Officially, the death rate so far has been just over three percent. But experts believe the true mortality rate is probably between one and two percent. This is because most mild cases have not been picked up by doctors or reflected in the official numbers – so the death rate is inflated.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE WITH OTHER DISEASES?
Seasonal flu kills roughly 0.1 percent of people. So Covid-19 is between 10 and 20 times more fatal.
But it is far less dangerous than SARS – the virus that ripped across China in 2003 – which killed 10 percent of patients.
BUT DOESN’T CORONAVIRUS SPREAD MORE EASILY?
Yes, but not dramatically. The best estimates suggest every person with Covid-19 passes it on to 2.6 people, on average. For flu that number is 1.5.
CAN IT BE SPREAD WITHOUT SYMPTOMS?
Initially scientists feared carriers who had no symptoms could pass it on. That is now in doubt.
What is likely, however, is those who have mild symptoms are putting it down to a cold and going about their normal lives – which puts others at risk.
HOW LONG IS IT BEFORE SYMPTOMS APPEAR?
Again, unclear. Initially scientists said this could take up to two weeks.
But recent evidence suggests the incubation period could be as long as a month – particularly among children.
The average, however, is much shorter. A Chinese study said the average period of symptom onset was 5.4 days for adults and 6.5 for children.
WHO IS AT RISK?
The virus can affect anyone – with a study of the first 41 infected people revealing two thirds did not suffer from any pre-existing condition. But the middle-aged are most likely to get it – 78 percent of those infected in China have been aged 30 to 69.
WHAT ABOUT THE OLD?
Only 3 percent of people infected so far have been over 80 – but if they get it they