The infectious SARS-like virus is currently spreading in parts of Asia, with more than 570 people struck down with sickness, while 17 have lost their lives.
A UK outbreak?
Chinese authorities have banned travel from three cities at the centre of the outbreak, with Wuhan placed in lockdown in an effort to quarantine the deadly virus.
The strain is causing concern due to its connection to SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), which killed almost 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong between 2002 and 2003.
This particular strain originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, the largest city in central China, with the first suspected cases of the virus were reported at the end of last year on 31 December 2019 in Wuhan.
However, the virus has since been confirmed in other parts of China, as well as cases outside of the country, including Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
These are the areas where cases have been confirmed so far:
- Beijing, five cases
- Shanghai, one case
- Wuhan, 198 cases
- Guangdong, 14 cases
- Seoul (South Korea), one case
- Tokyo (Japan), one case
- Bangkok (Thailand), two cases
UK health officials said the risk of outbreak in the UK is currently considered low, although the National Infection Service is working with the World Health Organisation, and other international partners, to keep the situation under constant review.
However, three suspected cases of the virus have now been reported in the Scottish capital.
Each were suffering respiratory symptoms and had been in the city of Wuhan in the last 14 days.
Prof Juergen Haas, head of infection medicine at Edinburgh University, told the PA news agency, "We have currently three cases suspected Wuhan coronavirus in Edinburgh and as far as I understand one case in Glasgow.
"The situation will be pretty similar in pretty much all UK cities with a large number of Chinese students.
"It's not too surprising. My suspicion is that there will probably be many more cases in many other cities in the UK. None of the cases I know of have been confirmed."
What to do if you think you have coronavirus
Dr Nick Phin, deputy director at the National Infection Service, Public Health England, has advised anyone who develops respiratory symptoms within 14 days of visiting Wuhan to seek medical attention, either in China or on their return to the UK.
Those with suspected symptoms of the virus, which include a runny nose, headache, cough and fever, are warned to “phone ahead before attending any health services and mention their recent travel to the city”.
Anyone who may be travelling to Wuhan to “maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene”.
Travellers are advised to avoid visiting animal and bird markets, as well as coming into contact with people who are ill with respiratory symptoms.
There are currently no vaccines to protect against coronavirus infection, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise taking the following precautions to help reduce your risk of contracting it, and reducing the spread:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who are sick