Coronavirus: Why it's more than "just another flu virus"

3 March 2020, 07:48 | Updated: 3 March 2020, 07:55

A woman wears a facemask to protect herself in London
A woman wears a facemask to protect herself in London. Picture: PA

By Adrian Sherling

If someone tells you that there's no need to worry about coronavirus because it's just another flu virus, these are the stats you need to educate them.

The government will unveil their battle plan today, bringing in draconian powers such as the ability to make infected areas "no-go zones" and drafting in retired medics.

While leaders have warned that people will have to change the way they live to help halt the spread of the virus, others say there's no need to worry as it's just another flu virus.

However, Nick Ferrari looked into the figures to establish why the authorities are so worried about the spread of the disease.

Coronavirus v Winter flu

Winter flu estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 this year.
Corona virus has been linked to just over 3,000 deaths to date, with around 90,000 confirmed cases.

But... it's the fatality rate that's important.

The percentage of people who contracted the virus who died with coronavirus was 2-4% in Hubei Province in China. Across the whole of China, the mortality rate was 1.4%.

For winter flu, it is just 0.1%.

That makes coronavirus 14 times more potent than winter flu.

And for elderly people, that risk rises substantially.

The coronavirus death rate by age
The coronavirus death rate by age. Picture: LBC

Who is most at risk from dying from coronavirus?

The majority of people who contract coronavirus make a full recovery. However, the elderly and infirm are most at risk from the virus.

Interestingly, children don't seem to show symptoms from Covid-19 and there are no known cases of children under 10 being ill with the virus. However, they could spread it to adults, which could make them ill.

According to the latest data from the China Centre for Disease Control, he mortality rate at different ages is:
Age 10-50: 0.3%
Age 51-60: 1.3%
Age 61-70: 3.6%
Age 71-80: 8.0%
Age 81-90: 14.8%

The risk climbs with older people because they often have other diseases or conditions which worsen coronavirus.

How to protect yourself from coronavirus

People need to reinvoke the slogan "Catch it, bin it, kill it, wash your hands". That is the simple answer because it's a respiratory illness.

You should treat it in the same way you treat a cold: use alcohol-based anti-bacterial soaps and sprays, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth and avoid contact with people who are infected.

Professor John Oxford says the old-fashioned way of stopping viruses is the best defence here: "The only way to stop it is physical cleaning and social distance - keeping away from people. Once they are close together in taxis or small rooms, then there may be a problem."

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The symptoms are similar to a common cold, including:
- a runny nose
- headache
- cough
- fever
- shortness of breath
- chills
- body aches

In most cases, you won't know whether you have a Coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus, such as rhinovirus.

But if a Coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract, such as your lungs, it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people.