FOR thousands of people across the globe, the new coronavirus has triggered life-threatening symptoms.
But for more than 75 per cent of individuals infected with Covid-19, the deadly illness can be practically invisible – according to experts.
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The warning signs of coronavirus include a new, continuous cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath.
However, a recent study published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has suggested that as many as 78 per cent of infected people may not show any of these three signs of Covid-19.
And if you don't display any symptoms – known as being 'asymptomatic' – then the risk of infecting others increases as people do not know to self-isolate.
Medics made the revelation about the huge percentage of asymptomatic patients after analysing collated data published daily by the Chinese authorities from April 1 on the number of new coronavirus cases in the country.
And the study reveals "a total of 130 of 166 new infections (78 per cent) identified in the 24 hours to the afternoon of Wednesday April 1 were asymptomatic."
On top of this, the 36 symptomatic cases "involved arrivals from overseas" according to China’s National Health Commission.
Tom Jefferson, an epidemiologist and honorary research fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said these details were "very, very important."
He told the BMJ: ‘The sample is small, and more data will become available. Also, it’s not clear exactly how these cases were identified.
"But let’s just say they are generalisable. And even if they are 10 per cent out, then this suggests the virus is everywhere.
"If—and I stress, if—the results are representative, then we have to ask, ‘What the hell are we locking down for?’"
Eventually, large-scale antibody testing will be able to show how many people have already had coronavirus – whether or not they developed typical symptoms.
In the meantime, there are a number of ways you can protect yourself and others from Covid-19…
1. Wash your hands
Health bosses say the best way to protect yourself and others is to wash your hands with soap and water for the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.
Happy Birthday takes about 20 seconds to sing twice and is said to be the perfect number to clean your hands to thoroughly.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent alcohol.
Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
2. Try not to touch your face
According to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Infection Control, people touch their faces more than 20 times an hour on average.
However, you'll need to try your best not to do this if you want to protect yourself from coronavirus.
This is because we're constantly touching surfaces contaminated with pathogens such as doorknobs, phones and handrails.
These pathogens can be picked up by our hands and get into the body through mucous membranes on the face — eyes, nose, and mouth — that act as pathways to the throat and lungs.
4. Cover coughs and sneezes
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
Throw used tissues in the bin straight away.
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It's hard to know when someone is going to cough or sneeze, but if you can, try and avoid standing within two metres of them.
Droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel up to approximately 7ft (2.1m) when expelled through the air.
5. Disinfect surfaces
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
In particular, Dr Jarvis urges people to use a disinfectant spray instead of baby wipes.
She added: "It makes more sense to use a disinfectant spray, sprayed from a distance of about six to eight inches.
6. Keep exercising
In order to stay healthy, it's important to make sure you exercise on a regular basis.
Frankie Brogan, Senior Nutritionist at Pharma Nord UK, said: "Regular exercise is a great way to support the immune system, and this may be due to various different mechanisms.
"As exercise can help support good circulation, this allows our immune cells to travel through the body more effectively.
"Furthermore, these immune cells seem to be stimulated by even mild exercise."
Make sure if you're going for a run, cycle or walk you only go once a day – as per Government guidelines.
7. Reduce stress
Stress can suppress the immune system and make you more vulnerable to infection, according to experts.
Research has found that stress causes a release of the hormone cortisol, which can boost inflammation, a precursor to many diseases, in your body.
Chronic stress may also interfere with the infection-fighting ability of your white blood cells, making you more susceptible to contracting illnesses.
Dr Jenna Macciochi, one of the UK's leading Immunologists, said: "Stress is one of the major contributors to an unbalanced immune system and susceptibility to infections.
"It’s important to try and reduce as much as you can through breathing techniques or just taking a moment to have a good cuppa."
8. Stay home!
To help stop the spread of coronavirus and safeguard the health of those at greatest risk, the Government has said we all need to stay at home.
The UK government's strict coronavirus restrictions only allow people to leave their homes for four reasons:
- Travel to and from work for key workers only
- Shopping for basic necessities, but as infrequently as possible
- Taking one form of exercise a day, alone or with members of your household, such as walking, running or cycling
- Going to a medical appointment or providing care to a vulnerable person.
If you are the first person in your household to develop symptoms of coronavirus you must stay at home for seven days.
However, for all other household members who remain well they must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.
The 14 day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for seven days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period.
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It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already.
Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.
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