Coronavirus: What do you need to know?

Published 17 Mar 2020 • By Camille Dauvergne

After the emergence of the coronavirus SARS, which was responsible for pneumonia in 2003 and MERS, responsible for severe respiratory diseases in 2012, the world is now facing a new coronavirus: SARS-CoV2. Where does this new virus come from? What are the symptoms? How can we protect ourselves? We tell you all about the Coronavirus and COVID-19 infection!

Coronavirus: What do you need to know?

Coronavirus, COVID-19, SARS-Cov2, what does all this mean?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)".

In December 2019, an epidemic of pneumonia with no known cause surfaced in the city of Wuhan (Hubei Province, China). On January 9, 2020, the discovery of a new coronavirus (first called 2019-nCoV and then officially SARS-Cov2) was officially announced by the Chinese health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO). The acronym SARS-Cov2 stands for "Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2".

This new virus is the cause of a new infectious respiratory disease called COVID-19 (for CoronaVIrus Disease 2019). Viruses and the diseases they cause, often have different names. For example, HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. In the case of the current pandemic, Cov2-SARS is the virus (coronavirus) that causes the COVID-19 infection.

Where did the coronavirus come from?

According to the Pasteur Institute, it is likely that the virus comes from an animal reservoir that has not been identified to date. Even if SARS-Cov2 is very close to a virus detected in a bat, the animal responsible for transmission to humans has not yet been identified with certainty. Several publications suggest that pangolin, a small mammal consumed in southern China, could be involved as an intermediate host between bats and humans.

Human-to-human transmission of the virus has been proven and it is estimated, to date, that in the absence of control and preventative measures, each patient could infect between 2 and 3 people.

How is the Coronavirus spread? 

Coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets: sputtering, sneezing, coughing, etc. Any close contact with a sick person, such as sharing the same living space, direct contact within 1 metre or a discussion of at least 15 minutes without protection, can transmit the virus. Harvard Medical School has shared that recent studies have found that the coronavirus "can survive up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2 to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel" and its droplets can remain in the air for up to 3 to 4 hours before they fall, though most fall more quickly. 

According to WHO, the incubation period for the COVID-19 coronavirus is generally 3 to 5 days, however, it can extend up to 14 days. During this period, the subject may be contagious: he or she may carry the virus before the onset of symptoms or at the onset of weak signals.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?


The main symptoms are fever (or the feeling of fever), as well as cough and/or shortness of breath. In the most severe cases, the patient may experience acute respiratory distress syndrome, acute kidney failure, or even multi-visceral (multi-organ) failure, which can lead to death.

What are the precautions to follow on March 17, 2020 at 9:00 am?

General Recommendations

These are the government recommendations which are regularly updated here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

On 16 March 2020, the Prime Minister recommended the following measures be put in place:

  • If you or a member of your household are exhibiting any key symptoms (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), you are advised to remain at home for 14 days
  • If possible, it is advised to remain indoors at all times, with the acception of occasional exercise done at a safe distance from others
  • Stop non-essential contact with others, particularly if you are over 70 years of age, are pregnant, or have an underlying health condition
  • Stop all unneccessary travel
  • Work from home where possible
  • Avoid public spaces, such as pubs, clubs, theatres and other social venues

In addition, the government recommends the following good practices:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
  • Only travel on public transport if you need to
  • Use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services

In case of signs of respiratory infection (fever or feeling of fever, cough, difficulty breathing):

  • Stay at home if you have either a high temperature (you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) or a new, continuous cough (this means you've started coughing repeatedly)
  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
  • You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home and testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home
  • Use the NHS 111 hotline online coronavirus service if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your syptoms do not get better after 7 days

What is the situation in the UK on 17 March at 9:00 am?

According to the government's information site, updated on 17 March 2020 at 9 a.m., 50,442 people have been tested in the UK, of which 48,492 were confirmed negative and 1,950 were confirmed as positive. The latest confirmed number of deaths will be announced later today.

Currently the UK is in the Delay stage of the government's emergency health response plan.

Useful sites and numbers

If you’re worried about coronavirus, you can get advice at nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • You feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • Your condition has worsened
  • Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

If you need medical help right now, call 111. You might have to wait longer than usual.

Advice in other parts of the UK:

avatar Camille Dauvergne

Author: Camille Dauvergne, Junior Community Manager France

Camille Dauvergne is currently a Junior Community Manager at Carenity. She assists the France Community Manager in animating the platform, easing member navigation of the site and encouraging them to interact.... >> Learn more


on 17/03/2020

Very informative not jargon but it’s done in lay mans terms so we can all understand thankyou

Darcys Mum
on 17/03/2020

I felt generally listless before the headache and sore throat  , by Monday night I felt like I had been hit by a truck . I have slept most of today but my head is still sore and my skin is burning . 

on 18/03/2020

Good informative, down to earth and stick to the science article. My wife and I, both with COPD have gone into self isolation. This is based on how we in general react to "the common cold". Keep safe and help one another!

on 18/03/2020

I have Type 1 Diabetes,  also Rheumatoid Arthritis,  and Adults Stills Disease,  so my Immune System is very low as it is , so can you please tell me if you know what's the chances of me catching this Covid-19 ? And will I Die if I catch it ? As I've not been gett6any straight answers from anyone in the Medical Profession,  I was at a Diabetic Clinic Appointment today in the R.A.H Paisley and when I asked I was just told to be Cery Carefull , I'm a Courier Self Employed for 3 Different Companies , and I cannot Afford to Stay of , of Work even though this Coronovirus is about Everywhere now , please tell me if I catch it and get Pneumonia will the Hospital be able to Treat my condition and how lo g will it take to get better ?? I am Really Scared about this if I stay of , of work I'll have no means to be able to keep feeding my Family we have bought quite alot of food stuff   but it can only last so long , and me having Diabetes then I need to eat around d 3 main meals and snacks between meals,  as I'm not normal.  Also with all the Medication I'm on my Immune System is lower than ever I take Methotrexate Injections + Humira Injections for my 2 types of Arthritis,  I've already had 5 Replacements done 2 Hips , 1 Right Knee , 2 Shoulders I am Really Really Scared and I don't want to Leave my Son and Step Son with me in there Lifes so please lmk what you think I should do and how this can Affect Me .

Thank you everyone who takes the time to Read this Large Paragraph sorry for how long it is , but I had to get all this of , of my Chest .



on 18/03/2020
Hi tattoomangeorge, i too am a type 1 diabetic with other under lying medical conditions and live in Falkirk. My diabetes specialist pump nurse told me to follow the 7 day rule. Ie temp basal in my insulin pump until my sugar levels come back down if i catch corona virus. Have you had your flu jag last year? If so gps apparently will b3 contacting us in due course to tell us to self isolate if government or diabetes team don't tell us first. If told to self isolate then we must do so. The country will go into lock down at some point but the government are meant to have something in place for us workers to be able to afford to live during this time. However like most i'm not sure what this is as of yet. Sorry i can't be of more help.

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