The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has infected more than 85,000 and killed at least 2,933 since December last year. Coronavirus attacks the respiratory system with flu-like and pneumonia-like symptoms.
But there is a subset of coronavirus infections that go by without showing any outward signs, potentially skewing the true scale of the outbreak.
At least 23 people from the UK have tested positive for COVID-19 and a British man who was on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan has died.
Dr Krzysztof Pyrć from the Jagiellonian University in Poland has now warned no one will know the true scale of the epidemic until it is over.
When asked about the coronavirus’ death rate, he told Interia: “At the moment, no one knows the answer to this question.
“It is estimated to be between two and three percent but we will know exactly when the epidemic ends.
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“There is probably a large group of patients who have an asymptomatic infection.
“We don’t know what the actual number of infected people is.”
The expert claimed it is likely people will not notice any serious symptoms when infected.
He said: “It is possible that we will not even know about it.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the virus, officially called SARS-CoV-2, incubates for up to 14 days inside the human body.
Once the virus incubates, it triggers mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, dry cough and tiredness.
COVID-19 can then deteriorate into full-blown pneumonia, which can be lethal if left untreated.
It is possible that we will not even know about it
Dr Krzysztof Pyrć, Jagiellonian University
The people most at risk of death are the elderly and patients already suffering from chronic illness and other underlining medical problems.
Dr Pyrć said: “The risk of death increases with age. Those most at risk are people at al older age, that is true.
“However, it does not mean younger people cannot fall ill from the virus.
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“They are not completely safe, because deaths have in younger people as well.”
The good news is, the WHO estimates up to 80 percent of all infected recover from the infection.
As of Saturday, February 29, nearly 40,000 people have recovered worldwide.
The WHO said: “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough.
“Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea.
“These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually.
“Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.
“Most people – about 80% percent – recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
“Around one out of every six people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.”
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