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How coronavirus spreads in just a week and what symptoms to look out for

IT’S the deadliest new virus in living memory and Covid-19 has already claimed 578 lives in the UK and 23,500 worldwide.

Professor Peter Openshaw, past President of the British Society for Immunology, tells how the virus spreads in just seven days.

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 Professor Peter Openshaw explains how the virus spreads in a week and how to know if you are infectious
Professor Peter Openshaw explains how the virus spreads in a week and how to know if you are infectiousCredit: Alamy

Day One

YOU arrange to meet a friend. You don’t know, but ten days ago their brother went to a pub where he caught the virus from the waiter.

Later, your friend’s brother coughed into his hand before opening the door to your friend.

Your friend talks to you and spittle touches your face.

Day Two

THE virus is working its way into the moist lining of your nose. You are not contagious just yet.

Your body’s cells are mounting a response, which the virus is trying to overcome. There’s a battle going.

If the virus manages to take down the first defences, it can then break out and spread.

Day Three

STILL feeling well, you continue meeting with friends and family.

The virus is now established inside you, hijacking cells and turning them into virus factories.

You don’t kiss your 70-year-old aunty goodbye, but you do use the toilet. You flush and leave the virus on the handle.

Day Four

FEELING fine, but you don’t know your natural defences are down.

You itch your nose at the supermarket then touch a shopping basket, a box of cereal and the card reader.

By now you are emitting a cloud of infectious droplets and you’ve been within a metre of at least 20 other shoppers.

Day Five

THE first symptoms appear. The thought of dinner makes you feel a bit sick. You feel tired and want to sleep.

Feeling unwell, you call a dog walker and book her to take your dog out. She agrees, grateful for the work.

You give her a £20 note and the odd few hundred thousand virus particles.

Day Six

YOU have a raging fever and ache all over. You feel sicker than you’ve ever been before.

The fever is actually a sign that your immune system is working to fight the virus by creating a hostile environment.

You wish you had stayed indoors sooner and been less blasé about catching it.

Day Seven

THANKFULLY, the fever, cough and sore throat are where the symptoms end for most people.

By day seven, your immune system is in full swing and will be able to destroy the virus allowing you to recover. Others — including some you have been in contact with — will not be so lucky.


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