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To check the current coronavirus measures and travel guidelines for your country, click here.
If you’ve caught the news recently, you’re probably wondering whether coronavirus is going to shake up your day-to-day life.
So far the virus has spread across six continents, and it seems inevitable the threat will increase in France and around the world over the coming weeks.
We’ve put together this handy FAQ to bring you some help, tips and perspective. For the moment, you probably don’t need to panic or quarantine yourself: life continues as normal pretty much everywhere around the world. But it won’t hurt to stay clued up on the official advice, as detailed below.
Think you’re coming down with something? Concerned about your sniffling colleague? Worried you’ll have to cancel your holiday plans? Stay up to date with our guide to the latest coronavirus guidance and developments.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that started in animals and is now being transmitted between humans. The symptoms include coughs, fever, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. First identified in Wuhan, China, the virus has (as of March 13) affected more than 128,000 people in 128 countries. Some 4,700 have died, while just over half have already recovered. On March 11 the World Health Organisation labelled the outbreak a ’pandemic’.
How bad is coronavirus?
Unlike flu, there is no vaccine (yet), and recovery depends on the strength of the immune system. In severe cases the virus may cause pneumonia and/or organ failure.
Compared to Sars (another coronavirus that hit headlines in 2003), the mortality rate of COVID-19 is low: around 3.4 percent according to the latest WHO estimate. This is, however, significantly higher than regular seasonal flu, which is fatal in around 0.1 percent of cases. So far, COVID-19 also appears to be more contagious than seasonal flu.
The elderly and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease are most likely to develop a severe illness relating to COVID-19. The death rate is ten times higher among the very elderly compared with the middle-aged, according to the WHO. Children are less likely to be affected.
Which countries have been worst hit by coronavirus?
Although the majority of cases (just over 60 percent) have been in China, there have also been serious outbreaks in Italy, South Korea and Iran. Italy has recorded more than 12,000 cases, Iran just over 10,000 and South Korea around 8,000.
As of March 13, there have been more than 2,200 cases in France. You can keep track of the spread of the disease on this map created by Johns Hopkins University. The WHO advises against travelling to areas experiencing ongoing transmission of COVID-19.
Generally, you should stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you have travelled from any of the following places in the last fortnight:
– Hubei province in China
– Special care zones in South Korea
Those who’ve travelled from the following areas should also self-isolate if they develop symptoms:
– Hong Kong
– South Korea
To check the current COVID-19 measures and travel guidelines for your country, click here.
How will coronavirus affect my day-to-day life?
First: don’t panic.
The spread of the virus outside China wasn’t unexpected, and governments have been making plans and issuing advice.
When it comes to personal hygiene, the WHO recommends regularly washing hands with soap; carrying and using alcohol-based hand sanitiser; refraining from touching your nose and mouth; and covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Should I avoid travelling because of coronavirus?
The French government warns against all but essential travel to China, South Korea, Iran, Singapore, and Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont in Italy. For up-to-date travel advice from the French authorities, check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.