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  Deadly virus Q&A
Updated 01 April 2003, 16.39
Not much detail is known about the virus at this stage
The deadly bug which is spreading around the globe is quite scary, but people have been told there's no need to panic.

Here's some more details about it:

How did it start?

It looks like the first case of the bug came from an American businessman who died in a hospital in Hong Kong. Lots of staff who looked after him caught the bug too.

But, some people think it started in an area of China called Guangdong, where the bug's killed 31 people.

What are the symptoms?

It's quite like a common cold. People get a fever, headache, sore throat and cough.

Sometimes it turns into pneumonia, where patients find it very hard to breathe.

What is it?

Doctors think it is something called the Corona virus, which comes from the family of viruses which causes colds. This new strain of the virus may have mutated to a bug which is very dangerous to humans.

How is it spread?

It's thought it's spread by coughing and sneezing, so it can be caught by someone if they've sat very close to a person with the virus.

But this hasn't been confirmed yet.

How can I protect myself?

There's not much people need to do in the UK.

People who have recently come back from the Far East have been told to look out for symptoms like high fever or breathing problems, and to get checked out by a doctor if they do get them.

But the government's not even advising people to cancel holidays to the infected areas yet - so it's not that serious.

Some people in Hong Kong - the worst-hit area - have started wearing face masks, but doctors aren't sure this actually helps.

Should I be worried?

Not really. There's only three possible cases of the virus in the UK, and all of them had been in close contact with people living in the Far East recently. They are all being looked after at specialist hospitals, and are responding well to treatment.

Only four per cent of people who catch the bug die from it. This is quite low.

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