A killer virus sweeping through China has killed six and potentially infected thousands.
A new strain of the deadly coronavirus was first recorded in the city of Wuhan last month, with subsequent reports in Thailand, Japan, the Philippines and South Korea.
The number of confirmed cases of the superbug, which is a cousin of the SARS virus, stands at almost 300, however experts fear the actual figure could be in the thousands.
Scientists at Imperial College London think that at least 1,700 people cold be infected in Wuhan alone.
The new strain, called novel coronavirus or nCoV, is expected to spread rapidly this weekend amid Chinese New Year celebrations.
Leo Poon, the virologist who first 'decoded' the infection, told CNN : "What we know is it causes pneumonia and then doesn't respond to antibiotic treatment, which is not surprising, but then in terms of mortality, SARS kills 10 per cent of the individuals."
The virus has killed six people, according to local health officials.
The World Health Organisation is due to host talks to decide whether the outbreak should be classed as a global health emergency.
The virus was first discovered in an animal and it is not yet clear how it was transmitted to humans.
Chinese officials say they have tracked the source of the outbreak to a Wuhan seafood market, which has been closed while an investigation is conducted.
Coronavirus is very common with almost everyone suffering from it at one point in their lives, although the new strain can prove fatal.
Early symptoms of the infection include coughing, fever and shortness of breath, although it can eventually lead to pneumonia, kidney failure and death.
People with weakened immune systems, babies and the elderly are particularly susceptible to the virus.
Experts say UK airport checks would only detect those who have started to show symptoms.
Dr Nathalie MacDermott, leading expert from King’s College London, previously said: “There is potential for exposure given the volume and frequency of international air travel and the potential for someone travelling from an affected region arriving in the UK prior to them developing symptoms.
“This is where appropriate screening measures need to be in place for travellers from affected regions who become unwell with fever and respiratory symptoms.
“Largely it would be something for a healthcare worker to consider if they had someone with respiratory symptoms who had history of contact with a confirmed case or travel to an affected region.
“Airport screening can be limited in its efficacy as it screens for fever in people with a travel history to an affected area and is dependent on travellers having symptoms at the time they pass through the airport.”
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