These are the age ranges most at risk of contracting coronavirus

The UK government as announced its Action Plan for the potentially imminent threat of a large Covid-19 outbreak inside the United Kingdom.

Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock outlined how emergency services, such as police and fire service, will be affected with nearly one fifth of the total UK workforce predicted to be off sick should the virus spread.

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The UK is moving from the "containment" stage of this outbreak to "delay" as more people have come forward with the virus. The Governments plans outline what it aims to do should the disease spread further. The worst case scenario is having 80 per cent of the UK population infected with the coronavirus strain known as Covid-19.

Are children more susceptible to Covid-19?

Normally during outbreaks, children, the infirm, and the elderly are considered the most vulnerable groups. Coronavirus still affects children, but research is proving that they do not seem to suffer the worst symptoms of the illness. But, they are still able to contract the disease.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that there is no evidence that children are more susceptible to contracting Covid-19. Even previous outbreaks of coronavirus, such as SARS and MERS, proved the infection in children to be uncommon.

There are still cases of children contracting the disease but symptoms are less severe than in adults. The CDC said, "Limited reports of children with COVID-19 in China have described cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting and diarrhea) have been reported in at least one child with COVID-19."

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Currently, Covid-19 gives adults symptoms similar to the flu, including a cough, shortness of breath, and a high fever.

Are children completely safe?

The problem is the lack of evidence for researchers to claim how Covid-19 really works. This disease has only been studied for four months so there is no definite answer.

The CDC explains that "there have been very few reports of the clinical outcomes for children with COVID-19 to date. Limited reports from China suggest that children with confirmed COVID-19 may present with mild symptoms and though severe complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) have been reported, they appear to be uncommon."

Children with underlying health conditions, especially respiratory difficulties, have an increased risk of contracting more severe symptoms.

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Another issue is that children who may be symptomless, or demonstrate mild symptoms, are carriers of the virus and can affect older people.

This is why the government and health agencies have suggested school closures as a means to stop the spread of the virus. Children are great at spreading viruses around a classroom, only to bring that virus back home to their parents and family.

Is there a cure for Covid-19?

There is no confirmed cure for the virus but a vaccine is being prepared. This might take upwards of one year to complete, which is actually quite a quick turn around for a vaccine.

The best way to limit the effects of Covid-19 and to stop the spread of the virus is to maintain a strict hand washing regime with soap and water and carry hand sanitiser if possible. Avoid touching your eyes and mouth if you are unwell. And if you have symptoms of the illness, or have returned from an infected area, contact your GP, dial NHS 111, or go on for information on what to do next.

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

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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?

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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 111

NHS 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