What is a corona-virus and should I be concerned?
Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Corona viruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Seven, including the new virus, have made the jump to humans, but most just cause cold-like symptoms.
Two other coronaviruses – Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) – are much more severe, having killed more than 1,500 people between them since 2002.
The new virus, officially called Covid-19, is also dangerous - so far, around 20 per cent of confirmed cases have been classed as severe or critical. So far, around 15 to 20 per cent of hospital cases have been classed as "severe" and the current death rate varies between 0.7 per cent and 3.4 per cent depending on the location and, crucially, access to good hospital care.
This is much lower than fatality rates for Mers (30 per cent) and Sars (10 per cent), but still a significant threat.
Scientists in China believe that Covid-19 has mutated into two strains, one more aggressive than the other, which could make developing a vaccine more complicated.