Coronavirus has spread to more than 170 countries or territories around the world, including the UK. Since the outbreak was discovered in Hubei province in China in December, people have been urged to wash their hands, distance themselves from others and self-isolate for 14 days if they experience symptoms.
Coronavirus symptoms include fever, a dry cough and breathing problems.
COVID-19 infects the lungs as it is a respiratory disease and it can take five days on average to start showing symptoms.
However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the incubation period can last up to 14 days.
The early symptoms can easily be confused with other winter bugs including colds and flu.
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In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said moral judgment must be made in temporarily sacrificing individual rights while working for the “greater good” to save potentially many thousands of lives.
Advice to the public includes avoiding all non-essential contact, a measure which is particularly important for the over-70s and others who are most vulnerable to succumb to the infection.
He said: “I think my advice would be that people should really think very carefully, irrespectively of whether they’re visiting their mother, any elderly person who will be in a vulnerable group.
“Think very carefully about the risk of transmission of the virus and follow the advice.”
Since the virus, which has killed more than 11,000 people worldwide, was discovered, scientists have attempted to find a cure.
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On Thursday, Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba’s advice to Malaysians to drink warm water to “flush” virus down to the stomach, where digestive acids will kill any virus, has come under question.
The Health Minister appeared on RTM’s Bicara Naratif programme and claimed the virus cannot take heat, and the warm water would also flush virus into the stomach.
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He said: ”Do not drink water that is not boiled. Drink a glass of water that is warm because the virus does not like warm things. Make sure (the water) is not too hot.
“The virus will go down (the oesophagus) and when it reaches the stomach which has acids, the virus dies. That’s how we eliminate the virus.
“What’s important is that we have to kill the virus in our throats before it reaches our lungs.
“This virus, it likes the lower part of the lungs. It likes to stay there. That’s why it is said that this virus loves human beings.”
However, Kalpana Sabapathy, a clinical epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told BBC Future drinking water doesn’t kill coronavirus.
Ms Sabapathy explained infections often begin after we’ve been exposed to thousands or millions of viral particles, so sweeping a few down the oesophagus is unlikely to have much of an impact.
She said: “One gaping hole in it is the likelihood that you managed to flush all of them down into your stomach.
“You would probably have already got them in your nostrils by then, for example – it’s not fool proof.”
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On Friday, March 20, the Prime Minister announced pubs, bars, nightclubs and restaurants will close due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Boris Johnson said the Government would be continually assessing the situation around pubs and cafes and other requested closures “to see if we can relax any of these measures”.
He said: “You may be tempted to go out tonight and I say to you please don’t, you may think that you are invincible – but there is no guarantee that you will get it.
“But you can still be a carrier of the disease and pass it on. We want you as far as possible to stay at home.”
The Prime Minister added: “I do accept that what we’re doing is extraordinary – we’re taking away the ancient inalienable right of freeborn people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub. And I can understand how people feel about that.
“But I say to people who do go against the advice that we’re getting, the very clear advice that we’re getting from our medical and scientific experts, you know you’re not only putting your own life, the lives of your family, at risk – you’re endangering the community.
“And you’re making it more difficult for us to get on and protect the NHS and save lives.
“And if you comply, if people comply as I say, then we will not only save lives, thousands of lives, but we’ll come out of this thing all the faster.”
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