How to stay calm amid the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak

Locals carry on with Valentine's Day celebrations amid coronavirus Covid-19 fears in Hong Kong. (Getty Images)

Fears of coronavirus Covid-19 may be causing you sleepless nights.

While there is no denying the infection can be life-threatening, experts stress panicking is futile.

Since the previously unknown strain emerged at a seafood and live animal market in the Chinese city Wuhan at the end of last year, it has crossed national borders into at least 27 other countries.

Authorities have confirmed more than 64,000 cases, of which 63,863 are in mainland China, according to John Hopkins University.

The death toll reached 1,381 on Friday.

Read more: How is the coronavirus Covid-19 diagnosed?

While the UK has just nine confirmed patients, some fear this is the tip of the iceberg.

Hundreds of attendees of the UK Bus Summit in London have been contacted after one guest tested positive for the infection.

Media reports allege up to eight aeroplanes were on lockdown at Heathrow airport amid fears an infected passenger was onboard.

Heathrow has neither confirmed nor denied the claims.

A man is pictured wearing a face mask in Wellington on 14 February, despite New Zealand having no confirmed cases. (Getty Images)

How worried should we be about the coronavirus Covid-19?

Covid-19 can be serious, with a small few succumbing to pneumonia.

The exact death rate is up in the air, with estimates ranging from 1% up to 18% on Monday.

While it may sound alarming, experts stress most cases are mild.

Symptoms tend to be flu-like, namely cough, fever and breathlessness.

With health officials actively testing suspected patients, case numbers are on the rise.

In other circumstances, many likely would have fought off the virus naturally, never knowing they had it.

“During an evolving outbreak, there will be many more people with mild symptoms, not requiring any medical intervention,” Dr Bharat Pankhania from the University of Exeter previously said.

Read more: When is coronavirus Covid-19 expected to 'peak'?

Professor Martin Hibberd, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, noted bird flu’s death rate was initially pegged “much higher than the now more established less than 0.1% [fatality] rate overall”.

While more people in the community are being tested, much of the data is coming from hospitals, where patients are severe by definition.

In Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak where Wuhan is capital, officials recently changed how they define a diagnosis - creating the illusion numbers have suddenly spiked.

Nevertheless, Covid-19 has been declared a “global emergency”, one of six since the concept was introduced in 2005.

UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate, however, the individual risk remains low.

How to stay calm amid the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak

“While the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, and it appears to be everywhere, it’s important to remain calm,” Dr Daniel Atkinson, clinical lead at, told Yahoo UK.

“The number of confirmed cases within the UK is still very low and most people make a full recovery.

“There are a number of different things you can do to stay calm during this fraught period.

“If you’re feeling panicked by the coverage of the virus, limit the amount of time you spend reading about the topic.

“It is easy to feel consumed by a major topic so get the news you need, breathe and focus on something else.”

While keeping up with current affairs is important, Dr Meg Arroll - chartered psychologist for Healthspan - recommends switching off alerts and only checking updates at set times of the day.

“Focus on your circle of influence, in other words, control your ‘controllables’,” she told Yahoo UK.

Read more: Coronavirus Covid-19 raises fears it may 'spread via faecal matter’

“You can’t control the outbreak of a virus, but you can control how much you check the news and your response to the story.”

Incoming news of Covid-19 can feel all consuming.

“If you’re feeling very anxious, practice some self-care with whatever works for you – seeing friends, going for a walk, having a long bath – to reset an anxious mind,” said Dr Arroll.

While on a global scale it may feel like we can do little to help, every individual plays a part in combating the spread of infection.

“Focus on what you can do rather than what you cannot to keep safe,” Dr Liz Ritchie, psychotherapist at St Andrew’s Healthcare, told Yahoo UK.

“Be mindful of good sanitation and avoid international travel if advised to do so.”

Try and also keep some perspective.

“Yes the virus is a real threat, but panicking can only serve to fuel unhelpful thoughts and feelings,” said Dr Ritchie.

“Scientific work is continually being done to learn more and stay ahead of the virus.”

An employee at the Beijing Chaoyang An'yuan Hospital disposes of medical waste on 14 February. (Getty Images)

What is the new coronavirus Covid-19?

Covid-19 is one of seven strains of the coronavirus class that is known to infect humans.

Others range from the mild common cold to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak that killed 774 people in 2004.

Most of the people who initially became unwell worked at, or visited, the Wuhan market.

The only know method of transmission is face-to-face via infected droplets that have been coughed or sneezed out.

It is unclear whether the virus “floats” in the air or can survive on hard surfaces.

While no one can say for sure where the virus came from, bats seem most likely.

The nocturnal creatures are thought to have been behind Sars and fellow coronavirus Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (Mers).

Scientists from Peking University in Beijing suggested snakes may have been the “intermediate host” for Covid-19.

A team from South China Agricultural University have since found it could have “jumped” from bats to humans via pangolins.

Coronaviruses as a class have no specific treatment.

“Paracetamol for fever and muscle pain is probably being given unless the patient deteriorates,” said Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia.

If pneumonia occurs, lungs to struggle to draw in air, resulting in reduced oxygen in the bloodstream.

“Without treatment the end is inevitable,” said the charity Médecins Sans Frontières.

“Deaths occurs because of asphyxiation.”

These patients require “supportive” care, like ventilation, in hospital while their immune system gets to work.

Sadly some do not make it, with most reported fatalities occurring among the elderly or otherwise unwell.

To prevent infection, the NHS recommends regular hand washing and avoiding those with suspect symptoms.