Is it just droplets from the nose and mouth that spread the new virus?
Probably not, but they are by far the most common risk.
The NHS and WHO are advising doctors that the virus is also likely to be contained in other bodily secretions including blood, faeces and urine.
Here again, hand and surface hygiene is the key.
How can I protect my family, especially children?
Children are a major vector for the spread of droplet-based viruses because they interact physically so much with each other and are not the best at keeping themselves clean.
The virus appears to impact older people more commonly but children can be infected and they can get severe illness, the government warns.
However, you can greatly lower the risk that children pose of spreading or catching viruses by:
Explaining to them how germs spread and the importance of good hand and face hygiene
Ensuring that they stick to the rules on social distancing so no meeting up with friends however bored they are getting
Keeping household surfaces clean, especially kitchens, bathrooms, door handles and light switches
Using clean or disposable cloths to wipe surfaces so you don’t transfer germs from one surface to another
Giving everyone their own towel and making sure they know not to share toothbrushes etc
Keep your home dry and airy (bugs thrive in musty environments)
The Government is advising that people stay at home and practice social distancing. Stay at least three metres away from other people.
Do not go to work unless it’s essential.
Are some groups of people more at risk than others?
Data from China suggests that people of all ages are at risk of contracting the virus, although older people are more likely to develop serious illness.
People with a reduced chance of surviving pneumonia include:
Of the first 425 confirmed deaths across mainland China, 80 per cent were in people over the age of 60, and 75 per cent had some form of underlying disease.
However, young people are not “invincible” as the WHO has warned and they must follow official advice.
Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?
The NHS began administering the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine on Dec 8 in 70 hospitals and will roll out jabs to 300 GP’s by Dec 14.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) granted the vaccine an emergency use license on Dec 2, and one million jabs were delivered to the NHS on Dec 3.
The UK has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine overall, which has shown over 90 per cent efficacy at preventing Covid-19 in those without evidence of prior infection.
Immunologist Professor Uğur Şahin, the founder of the BioNTech firm which has developed a vaccine alongside Pfizer, said that the jab has “no serious side effects”.
“Key side effects” included a mild to moderate pain in the injection site for a few days, and a “mild to moderate fever” for one or two days, he told the BBC on Nov 15.
But on Wednesday 9, the MHRA warned NHS Trusts not to give the jab to people with a ‘significant’ history of allergic reactions, after two NHS staff reacted to it.
NHS front-line staff will no longer be prioritised for the coronavirus vaccine, amid confusion over the number of doses that will arrive by the end of the year.
NHS staff were to be first in line for the jabs after it was deemed too difficult to get the vaccine to care homes, but with the UK receiving a smaller initial batch of the vaccine than expected, care homes were bumped back up the list.
There are almost 200 coronavirus vaccine candidates in development, and at least 15 of these are in human trials.
Another vaccine that has shown promising results is made by Moderna, which has proven nearly 95 per cent effective in trials.
In an announcement from Downing Street on November 16, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, shared that the UK has now ordered 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccination when combining the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and the Astrazeneca (Moderna) agreements.
Both vaccinations will be injected in two doses, but the Moderna jab is not expected to reach the UK until around spring 2021.
Interim data shared on November 23 suggests that the Oxford and AstraZenca vaccine has 70 percent protection but can be as high as 90 percent by altering the dosage.
In an unexpected turn of events, Moscow also claimed its own Sputnik-V candidate had reached 92 per cent efficacy, less than 48 hours after Pfizer’s announcement.
Any potential vaccine would be most likely be given to health workers and vulnerable groups most at risk of contracting the virus first.
In his discussion of the latest promising developments on November 16, Professor Van-Tam shared that the Moderna was “the biggest and most important thing the NHS has done for quite a while.” He then went on to suggest the vaccination will “dramatically change what the late Spring and Summer will look like. That’s how big the prize is, therefore it’s really important that everyone works really hard on this.”
However, researchers in China believe that the virus may have mutated into two strains, one of which is highly aggressive, and there has also been a mutation of coronavirus in Denmark linked to mink. Both of these factors may impact the effectiveness of a vaccine.
Professor Sahin admitted that he expects the antibody response in patients “will decline over time”, but mooted the idea of combining vaccines for people who no longer had an immune response.