The fight against the new coronavirus has been a battle against the unknown for doctors.

How does it attack the body? What are the different symptoms? Who is most likely to be seriously ill or die? How do we treat it?

Studies by doctors on the front lines of the epidemic in Wuhan, China have begun to address all of these concerns.

Generally mild infection
A report from the Chinese Centers for Disease Control has examined more than 44,000 confirmed cases of the disease.

The findings indicate that:

  • 81% of cases develop mild symptoms
  • 14% develop severe symptoms
  • 5% become seriously ill
    Men and women are equally likely to be infected, contrary to early reports which suggested that the disease mainly affected men.

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Fever and lung problems

The virus, Sars-CoV-2, infects tissues and airways deep in the lungs rather than in the nose.

Fever, fatigue and a dry cough are the most common symptoms in hospital patients.

But not everyone has these symptoms, according to teams from Zhongnan Hospital, Wuhan University, and Jinyintan Hospital, Wuhan.

The other symptoms are:

  • 31% of cases had shortness of breath
  • 11% had muscle pain
  • 9% were confused
  • 8% had a headache
  • 5% had a sore throat
    The disease can progress to pneumonia – inflammation of the lungs and tiny bags where oxygen passes from air to blood that fills with water – and ultimately to failure of internal organs.

But all of these studies are based on the most seriously ill patients who end up in the hospital.

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