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The UK is continuing to work on its response to the coronavirus outbreak after more than 100 people in the UK were diagnosed with the disease.
Here is a selection of readers’ questions about the virus and the outbreak.
What is the risk to children? – Louise, London
In general, children appear to be relatively unaffected by coronavirus, according to data from China.
This may be because they are able to shake off the infection or have no symptoms or only very mild ones similar to a cold.
However, children with underlying lung problems, such as asthma, may have to be more careful, as the virus could trigger an attack.
For most children, though, it will be a respiratory infection like any other and no cause for alarm.
The UK government would have the power to close schools to prevent the spread of the virus, if it wanted. Schools in Italy and Iran have already been shut.
Can the virus spread on notes and coins? – David Webber, Dorset
The Chinese government has said that cash received by all banks must be sterilised before being released to customers, in order to reduce the spread of the disease.
Using contactless cards can minimise the risk of handling cash. However, these cards can also harbour germs and viruses.
Best practice is to wash your hands thoroughly after handling cards, coins or banknotes.
Should people disinfect their phone? – Chris, Penzance
Coronavirus is believed to be transferred between people in droplets from coughs and sneezes. But experts think that it can survive on surfaces, possibly for days.
So it’s important that your phone – at home, mobile or at work – is cleaned thoroughly and often.
Using an anti-bacterial wipe to do this is a good way of protecting yourself from coronavirus and other diseases.
Would the government close UK borders to stem the virus’s spread? – Emma, Dagenham
Although some countries, including Australia and the US, have introduced travel restrictions on some areas with coronavirus outbreaks, the UK has no plans to close its borders.
The government says that it wants to keep people safe while minimising the social and economic impact of any outbreak.
If flights to and from other countries were cancelled, people could always find other ways of getting to the UK. That’s the view of the World Health Organization, too: it is not in favour of trade and travel restrictions to countries with coronavirus outbreaks, because it says it’s just not effective.
Currently, all flights and sea vessels arriving in the UK must provide a declaration stating that their passengers are well. The Foreign Office is providing advice to British nationals abroad and to those planning to travel.
What are differences between coronavirus and flu? – Brent Starr, Gresham, Oregon, US
Coronavirus and flu share many similar symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose without a test. The main coronavirus symptoms to look out for are fever and a cough. Flu often has other symptoms too, such as a sore throat, while people with coronavirus may feel short of breath.
Anyone who suspects they may have caught coronavirus should not visit their GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Instead, they should call 111 to speak to someone.
How are exam boards preparing in case schools have to close? – Amanda, Berkshire
Exam boards across the UK currently say there are no changes to timetables and that students, schools and colleges should prepare for exams as normal.
England’s exams watchdog Ofqual, SQA in Scotland,Qualifications Wales and CCEA in Northern Ireland say they are monitoring the situation closely.
Exams in Scotland start at the end of April and in the other three countries in early May.
If my husband and I got the virus, could our pets be infected? – Pat Jackson
No. According to the World Health Organization there is no evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted between humans and family pets.
Coronaviruses occur in almost all animal species, including humans. They are usually specific to a single species and transmission between species is very uncommon.
But you should still make sure that after touching your pets you wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Pets can carry bacteria like E.coli and salmonella and these bugs can pass between pets and humans.
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