Scientists have confirmed how long it takes for coronavirus symptoms to develop in infected people.
The team of US-based immunologists studied more than a hundred cases of Covid-19 in order to give a better estimate of its incubation period in humans.
Their report, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, found that, on average, it takes around five days for symptoms of Covid-19 to develop.
They also found that 97 per cent of all people who get the virus will develop symptoms within 11 days after they were first infected.
The report said that the current government advice, which tells people suspected of having the disease to self-isolate for 14 days, is “well supported by the evidence”, and that “the estimates presented here can help public health officials to set rational and evidence-based COVID-19 control policies.”
What are Covid-19’s symptoms?
The Covid-19 strain of coronavirus, which has already infected more than 119,000 people around the world, has three main symptoms:
- A dry cough
- Breathing difficulties (in more severe cases)
The NHS notes, “Do not leave your home if you have either:
– a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.
Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.”
Who is worst affected by Covid-19?
As with other viruses, like the flu, some groups will be worse affected than others. Older people, and those with pre-existing conditions, are at greater risk of Covid-19.
You may be at increased risk from coronavirus if you:
- are 70 or older
- are pregnant
- have a condition that may increase your risk from coronavirus
Conditions that may increase your risk:
- lung conditions, such as asthma, COPD, emphysema or bronchitis
- heart disease, such as heart failure
-chronic kidney disease
- liver disease, such as hepatitis
- conditions affecting the brain and nerves, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you've had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being very overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
How do I protect myself from coronavirus?
The NHS explains that, “The advice for people who may be at increased risk from coronavirus is the same as for most other people.
“You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home
Coronavirus: the facts
What is coronavirus?COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
What caused coronavirus?The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.
How is it spread?As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.
What are the symptoms?The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.
What precautions can be taken?Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to 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 try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.
Should I avoid public places?Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.
What should I do if I feel unwell?Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.
When to call NHS 111NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.
Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS