Coronavirus arrived on Irish shores for the first time over the weekend after a male in Dublin contracted the virus in Northern Italy, but what exactly is Coronavirus? And what are the chances of it spreading in Ireland? 

The virus, medically referred to as Covid-19, originated in Wuhan, China and is about ten times more deadly than the common flu. 

At the time of writing, there have been 89,254 confirmed cases of Coronavirus and 3,058 deaths, although more than 45,000 people have made a full recovery. 

Health experts estimate that the mortality rate is around 1%, although this is not exact since most mild cases are never reported. 

Coronavirus appears to be more contagious than seasonal flu and every infected person is likely to infect 2.2 others. By contrast, a person with seasonal flu will infect 1.3 others. 

However, like the mortality rate, this 'reproduction rate' is skewed. The infection was not well managed at the outset and the reproduction rate soared in Wuhan. As countries adopt more stringent policies towards Coronavirus, the infection rate is likely to fall drastically. 

Read more: Dublin school closed due to confirmed Coronavirus case

Who is most likely to contract Coronavirus? 

As is the case with seasonal flu, over 65s are most at risk of infection, in addition to those who have weak immune systems and those who suffer from chronic illnesses. 

Around 80% of the deaths have been over 60 years of age, while 75% of those who died have suffered from pre-existing conditions like cancer or diabetes. 

Early data suggests that men are more at risk of dying from Coronavirus than women, specifically those aged 40 and over. 

How is Coronavirus contracted? 

Since it is a new virus, a lot is still unknown about Covid-19 and how it is transmitted. 

Health experts are certain that it is spread via cough or sneeze droplets, however, they have recently confirmed that it can be passed by human-to-human contact. 

A health professional spray disinfectant on a street in South Korea

A health professional spray disinfectant on a street in South Korea

As a result, numerous health bodies are advising against shaking hands and there is an ongoing campaign to ensure that people wash their hands thoroughly and properly. 

It's very unlikely that Covid-19 can be spread through things like packages or food. 

What to do if you're experiencing symptoms? 

If you're experiencing a fever, a cough, shortness of breath or, in very severe circumstances, pneumonia, the Department of Health advises people not to go to the emergency room or their local doctors.

Instead, those experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 are advised to report them to the appropriate health services to prevent further spreading of the virus. 

“Any person concerned that they may have symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) should immediately isolate themselves from others and contact their GP by phone," said the National Public Health Emergency Team.

Read more: Coronavirus case confirmed in Northern Ireland, patient traveled through Dublin

How likely is an Irish outbreak of Coronavirus? 

Despite the announcement of Ireland's first Covid-19 case over the weekend, the likelihood of an outbreak remains relatively low. 

Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer with the Department of Health, said that protocols have been in place since January to deal with a potential outbreak.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre said that the chances of an outbreak were slim and that people should continue to go to work or school. 

The HSE said that the country is still in containment phase in the wake of Ireland's first diagnosis. 

Where are the worst affected areas? 

Unsurprisingly, China is by far the worst affected country. 

Since the outbreak in December last year, the country has seen more than 80,000 confirmed cases and 2,912 deaths. 

South Korea has suffered the second-worst outbreak of the virus with more than 4,000 confirmed cases, although its death toll remains relatively low on 26. 

Italy has experienced the worst outbreak of the virus in Europe with 1,703 confirmed cases, most of which have been diagnosed within the last week. A total of 41 people have died from the virus since the outbreak in the northern part of the country. 

Iran has suffered a particularly high mortality rate in the Middle East, with 55 of its 978 confirmed cases dying after contracting the virus. 

The Diamond Princess has been docked since Feb. 2- Getty

The Diamond Princess has been docked since Feb. 2- Getty

There are over 700 confirmed cases on the Diamond Princess cruise ship which is docked in the Japanese port of Yokohama. 

Read more: Two Irish passport holders test positive for coronavirus on quarantined ship in Japan

The Diamond Princess has been docked in Yokohama for over three weeks and seven people who contracted the virus while on board have died. 

The number of confirmed cases in the USA is approaching 100 and stood on 88 at the latest count. So far, two people have died from Coronavirus in the United States. 

How does the virus compare with the flu? 

While Coronavirus is technically more lethal than the flu, the flu is more prevalent than the novel virus throughout the world. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) estimates that at least 31 million people in the United States alone contracted some form of flu between October and February. However, that figure could be as high as 45 million.

The CDPC conservatively estimated that 18,000 people died from seasonal flu this winter in the United States but, again, this figure could be as high as 46,000. 

Either way, there have been at least six times as many flu-related deaths in the United States this winter as there have been Coronavirus-related deaths in the world since December. 

On average, between 290,000 and 650,000 people died from seasonal flu complications each year around the world. 

While Covid-19 may be more lethal, some perspective is needed. If less than 100,000 people have contracted the virus more than three months after its initial outbreak, it does not appear as ubiquitous as seasonal flu and, therefore, it is likely to kill fewer people than flu does annually. 

Read more: First case of coronavirus confirmed in the Republic of Ireland

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