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Coronavirus: Crucial questions answered on current situation and future plans

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China has reported more than 80,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths

China has reported more than 80,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths

National Institutes of Health/AF

China has reported more than 80,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths

Q. What is the scale of the problem?

A. China has reported more than 80,000 cases and almost 3,000 deaths.

Outside China there have been more than 10,000 cases across more than 70 countries.

The first Briton to die from the virus had been on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined off the coast of Japan. He was the sixth passenger to die after more than 700 tourists contracted Covid-19 on board.

.Q What is happening in Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole?

A. There have been 85 confirmed cases in the UK - three in Northern Ireland - with more than 16,500 people tested. The 20th case was the first transmission of coronavirus within the UK and the Department of Health and Social Care said the original source was "unclear".

Three of the newest cases were also passed on in UK.

There have been no deaths.

Q. How bad could it get?

A. The Government has said that in a worst-case scenario, up to 80% of the population could become infected, with people in hospital with pneumonia and a relatively high death rate among the elderly and frail. Scientists predict the UK would see a coronavirus peak two to three months after sustained person-to-person transmission becomes established across the country.

Q. What is the Government's battle plan?

A. The 27-page document sets out the UK-wide response to Covid-19, with possible measures including the cancellation of non-urgent operations and retired NHS staff being called back to duty. Strategies for delaying the spread of the virus include school closures, reducing the number of large-scale gatherings and encouraging more home working. The military could also provide support to emergency services if needed.

Q. How do I self-isolate if I am asked to?

A. If you are told to self-isolate, you should stay at home and not go to work, school or public places.

You should also not use public transport or take taxis. You should try to avoid close contact with family members and do not have visitors to your home.

However, it is fine for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food.

Q. What about a vaccine?

A. Vaccines have been developed and researchers are starting to test them on animals, but tests can take months to see if any potential vaccine can be used on humans and there will then have to be trials on humans.

The World Health Organisation has convened a group of experts to fast-track promising tests, drugs and vaccines, but experts say it could still be months or even years before any approved treatments or vaccines are developed.

The Government is putting £40m into trying to find a vaccine and also aiming to improve treatments for patients with the disease.

Belfast Telegraph