THE deadly new coronavirus – which has already killed over 3,000 people – cannot be treated with antibiotics, health experts have warned.
Its initial symptoms are similar to the start of a common cold – fever, dry cough, shortness of breath and fatigue.
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But as with most colds and flus, coronavirus is a viral infection – which means treating it with antibiotics is useless.
Antibiotics only work in treating bacteria.
The World Health Organisation has said: "The new coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.
"However, if you are hospitalised for the 2019-nCoV, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible."
One of the known complications of the new virus, which affects the lower respiratory tract, is that it can develop into pneumonia.
Pneumonia is swelling of the tissue in one or both lungs and as it's a bacterial infection it is usually treated with antibiotics.
Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and clinical director of Patient.info, told The Sun Online: "Because this is a viral infection, antibiotics are completely useless.
"However, there is other treatment that can be offered by hospitals if necessary.
"It’s crucial to identify everyone with coronavirus so we can prevent it spreading to vulnerable people."
Because this is a viral infection, antibiotics are completely useless
Dr Jarvis advises that if you're concerned you may be at risk of having the virus, don't go to your GP.
She said: "If you are at risk, it’s essential to stay indoors and isolate yourself from other people.
"That includes avoiding going to work, seeing friends and using public transport.
"If you are at risk, don’t go to your GP. Instead, ring 111 in England, Scotland and Wales or ring your GP if you’re in Northern Ireland."
It comes after the first Brit known to have caught the coronavirus told The Sun how he beat the killer bug with a “glass of hot whisky and honey”.
Teacher Connor Reed, 25, was diagnosed with the infection by docs in Wuhan.
He went to hospital after struggling to breathe and could not shake off a bad cough — all classic symptoms.
Connor, originally from Llandudno, North Wales, spent two weeks in hospital where he claims he was offered antibiotics but turned them down.
He said: "I did refuse to take the antibiotics the doctors prescribed me because I didn’t want to take any medicines.”
Instead, Connor says he used an inhaler to control the cough and drank a hot whisky with honey until that ran out.
He said: “It’s an old fashioned remedy but it seemed to do the trick."
It’s an old fashioned remedy but it seemed to do the trick
There's no scientific proof that the drink, known as "a hot toddy", actually has any healing power.
But for years people have credited its ingredients with helping to ease the symptoms of a cold.
Honey, for example, can soothe a sore throat while lemon contains powerful antioxidants that reduce phlegm.
What to do if you're worried you've got coronavirus
BRITISH health chiefs have raised the coronavirus risk to the public from low to moderate.
Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.
The majority of those who have been infected with the virus so far have either visited China or been in close contact with someone who has.
But if you are concerned known the signs is one of the best ways to protect yourself from 2019-nCoV.
Symptoms usually include:
- a cough
- a high temperature
- difficulty breathing
In most cases, you won't know whether you have a coronavirus or a different cold-causing virus.
But if a coronavirus infection spreads to the lower respiratory tract, it can cause pneumonia, especially in older people, people with heart disease or people with weakened immune systems.
It is incredibly contagious and is spread through contact with anything the virus is on as well as infected breath, coughs or sneezes.
The best way to prevent catching any form of coronavirus is to practice good hygiene.
If you have cold-like symptoms, you can help protect others by staying home when you are sick and avoiding contact with others.
You should also cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough and sneeze then throw it away and wash your hands.
Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces which you may have touched is also important.
If you have returned from Wuhan in the last 14 days:
- Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people as you would with other flu viruses
- Call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the city
- your recent travel to the city
If you are in Northern Ireland, call your GP.
Please follow this advice even if you do not have symptoms of the virus.
Meanwhile, leading symptom-checking provider to the NHS Doctorlink has been updated to help identify patients' risk of having coronavirus.
Hot water can reduce nasal congestion and the whiskey contains ellagic acid, which studies suggest may help treat viral and bacterial infections.
However, a hot toddy can leave the body dehydrated so experts recommending limiting them to one a day.
Dr David Greuner, a surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates, told Fatherly: “Alcohol is a diuretic that pulls fluids from the body, so drink plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, like water."
As yet, there's still no cure for the new outbreak of coronavirus, which has infected more than 96,000 people.
Doctors in Thailand say they have seen successful in treating severe cases with a combination of medications for flu and HIV.
The medics from Rajavithi Hospital in Bangkok said initial results showed vast improvement 48 hours after applying the treatment.
It includes a mixture of anti-HIV drugs lopinavir and ritonavir, in combination with flu drug oseltamivir in large doses.
Chinese health officials have already been administering the HIV and flu drugs to fight the coronavirus.
The use of the three together in a cocktail seemed to improve the treatment, the Thai doctors said.
Another doctor said that a similar approach in two other patients resulted in one displaying some allergic reaction but the other showed improvement.
Experts are frantically working to develop a vaccine that could help stop the spread.
But scientists say it could be at least a year before an injection is made available – after trials on animals before humans.
Today, Britain's top doctor Professor Chris Whitty said a vaccine won't be ready for another year – and will miss the 'first wave' of the bug.
Professor Whitty said it would be "lucky" to get a booster for Covid-19 in 2020, though existing drugs could play a role.
And the Chief Medical Officer added that even if we did get a vaccine for the deadly bug it would "not get us out of a hole now."
He said: "I think … a year would be lucky to get this – so we will not have a vaccine available for the first wave if we have a first wave."
The new coronavirus is part of the same family of viruses that caused the SARS pandemic in 2002-2003.
There is still no cure for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) almost two decades on and treatment is mainly supportive.
That means that if someone is taken to hospital with the illness they may be given antiviral medication or steroids to reduce swelling in the lungs.
Antibiotics may be used to treat bacteria that can cause pneumonia, according to the NHS.
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