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Coronavirus: What we know as virus hits UK

Coronavirus has hit the UK, making England the 23rd nation to record a case of the deadly bug.

Two members of a family have been diagnosed and are being treated at a specialist centre in Newcastle after being taken there overnight.

Currently, 83 Britons and 27 foreign nationals are flying back to the UK from Wuhan, in China, the city where the fist cases of the virus were found earlier this month.

The World Health Organisation have declared it an international public health emergency. (28077328)
The World Health Organisation have declared it an international public health emergency. (28077328)

They are due to land at RAF Brize Norton at 13.30 today, where they are set to be quarantined for two weeks.

To date 213 have died, all of which have been in China, and the virus has now spread to every one of the nation's five regions, home to 1.4 billion people or about a sixth of the world's population.

In total 56 million people have been quarantined - more than the entire population of England.

. (28072607)
. (28072607)

The BBC today have claimed around 10,000 cases have been reported, most of which have been confined to the Hubei Province.

Last night the World Health Organisation declared it an international public health emergency.

While it is more widespread than respiratory condition SARS, which originated in China in 2002, it has killed less people.

The city has severe travel restrictions, making it difficult to get to the airport.

Professor Chris Whitty, chief medical officer for England said: “We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus. The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus.

“The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread.

“We have been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and we have robust infection control measures in place to respond immediately. We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organization and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities.”

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a type of viruses which includes SARS but also most respiratory problems including the common cold.

The name stems from the Latin corona (crown) due to the appearance of the virus under a microscope.

They are transmitted from animals, SARS coming from cats and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) from camels.

This strain, officially named nCoV was discovered on January 7, and while little is known about it human-to-human transmission has occurred.

It's not known for sure where it came from but Chinese authorities have pointed the finger at a seafood market in Wuhan where wildlife, including wolves, pangolins and porcupines, were illegally sold.

Snakes and bats have both been suggested as the culprits.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms include fevers, coughs and breathing difficulties but the virus can cause pneumonia, kidney failure and in severe cases death.

The incubation period - the length of time before symptoms show themselves - could be as long as two weeks.

How worried should we be?

While it is more widespread than SARS - which was eventually stopped by a similar process of isolating victims - it is not yet as deadly.

SARS killed 800 people, 300 in China. MERS killed 858 people in 2012, a third of all those who caught it.

The most worrying thing is there is to date no cure for coronaviruses. Historically quarantining seems to have worked.

So far it has spread to to many Asian countries, as well as Australia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.

What is being done?

A vaccine is being worked on with some saying it could be here by summer, which may seem like a long time but it took 20 months before a cure for SARS was ready for testing.

In the meantime Wuhan has been sealed off and airports worldwide have employed screening measures.

United Airlines and British Airways have halted all flights to China.

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