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At this point, it goes without saying that coronavirus has shaken up all of our day-to-day lives.
So far the virus has spread across six continents, and citizens of more than 100 countries have been under orders to stay at home.
With events constantly changing, we’ve put together this handy FAQ to bring you some help, tips and perspective. Life has come to involve a whole lot more Netflix and takeaways (and a whole lot less going out) than before – which is why we’ve temporarily changed our name to Time In.
Of course, the most important thing right now is to stay clued up on the official advice, as detailed below. Think you’re coming down with something? Want to know what social distancing means in your country? 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 June 1) affected more than six million people in 213 countries and territories. More than 370,000 have died, while around 2.6 million 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?
There have been serious outbreaks all around the world. As of June 1, there have been more than 1.8 million confirmed cases in the US, around 515,000 in Brazil, some 420,000 in Russia and more than 275,000 in the UK. 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.
To check the current coronavirus 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 sharing information and regularly updating 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.
If you’re in the UK
As of March 24, the government has ordered everyone to stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus – even if you don’t have any symptoms or an underlying health condition.
You can only leave home to shop for basic essentials such as food and medicine; to do unlimited exercise; for any medical need, like visiting a pharmacy or delivering essential supplies to a vulnerable person; or to travel to and from work (but only if you absolutely can’t work from home).
From June 1, anyone who lives in England can also meet up in groups of six outdoors – but you must maintain a two-metre distance with anyone not in your household.
If you’re in the US
Different states have recommended different degrees of social-distancing measures. Wherever you are, however, the CDC now advises avoiding all unnecessary contact with other people. You should work from home whenever possible, and avoid social gatherings and discretionary travel.
If you are mildly ill and think you may have the virus, then you can recover at home. If you develop any emergency warning signs, such as trouble breathing, then you should get medical attention immediately.
If you’re in Australia
The Department of Health recommends Australians practise social distancing. That means staying at home when you are unwell; avoiding large public gatherings; keeping a distance of 1.5 metres between you and others; and reducing physical contact, especially with higher-risk people such as the elderly and those with physical health conditions.
States including Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales are gradually lifting lockdown restrictions (but very much at different rates). Check your local authority website to stay clued up on the latest rules.
If you think you have symptoms of Covid-19, you should stay at home and call the coronavirus health information line on 1800 020 080.
Should I avoid travelling because of coronavirus?
In the UK, the Foreign Office (FCO) has advised against all non-essential international travel ‘indefinitely’. The Australian government has also advised against all but essential international travel. The US is advising against all non-essential travel to an increasing number of countries because of Covid-19.
There are now travel restrictions, border closures and health checks in place in many countries. If you’ve recently been to certain badly affected areas, entry to other countries may be denied or you could be placed in quarantine.
Here’s everything we know so far about when we might be able to travel again – and see below for your government’s latest official travel advice.