Here's why coronavirus is not as lethal as SARS

The World Health Organisation has announced that the most recent outbreak of coronavirus, known as Covid-19, is not as lethal as severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS.

The SARS outbreak began in 2013 and infected 8,000 people, killing 773 people worldwide.

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Covid-9 began in late 2019 and has so far infected over 114,573 people, and has killed over 3,800 people worldwide, with most from the city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of central China where the disease escalated over the new year.

Why is Covid-19 not as bad?

SARS infected fewer people than Covid-19, just like its cousin Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in 2012, but it had a devious nature. However, both of those coronaviruses affected children, whereas Covid-19, the most current strain, does not.

In fact, WHO reports that coronavirus may spread faster and it may have a longer, symptomless incubation period of 14 days - but four out of five people infected only suffer mild symptoms.

Dr Tedos Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, said, “It appears that Covid-19 is not as deadly as other coronaviruses, including Sars and Mers. Officials are starting to get a clearer picture of the outbreak.

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“More than 80 per cent of patients have mild disease and will recover, 14 per cent have severe disease including pneumonia and shortness of breath, five per cent have critical disease including respiratory failure, septic shock and multi-organ failure, and two per cent of cases are fatal.

“The risk of death increases the older you are.”

Are children safer?

So far evidence suggests that this strain of coronavirus does not affect children the same way as MERS and SARS, but it is too early to rule out a potential mutation.

Viruses can mutate to adapt to different hosts in order to survive, and there are gaps in our understanding of this new disease.

But it seems that children are not as at risk as the older generation are. It is still extremely important that all people - adults and children - continue to use strict hand-hygiene procedures and implement these at work and schools.

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What is Covid-19?

Officially, this latest outbreak is called Covid-19, not 'coronavirus'.

A coronavirus is a family of viruses including SARS and MERS, which after cause acute flu-like symptoms but the word has been used to describe this new disease until scientists could identify that it was a unique strain.