Here's where coronavirus originated and when it started

By now the term 'coronavirus' is a common one in everyday life, as Covid-19 continues to spread across the globe and claim more lives.

But where did the world's latest pandemic start?

Here's everything you need to know:

How did coronavirus start?

Before we go much further, it's worth noting that due to how new Covid-19 is in the world of viruses, there is still a lot of research to be done before experts and scientists can understand it fully.

As far back as late December 2019, a number pneumonia cases were reported by health authorities in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

But later, South China Morning Post reported that the first confirmed Covid-19 case could be traced back to 17 November 2019. according to Chinese government documents.

The cases were of an unknown origin, but over two thirds had links to the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which sold live animals.

That means that Covid-19 is thought to have a zoonotic origin, that is, it was active in animals before it was transmitted to humans.

It is thought that Covid-19 could have originated in bats or pangolins, since it shares much of the same properties as coranviruses from those species, but this is not confirmed.

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread.

But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised.

Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat.

It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly.

The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government advice

As of Monday 16 March the government advised that everyone should be observing social distancing - avoiding unnecessary travel and working from home where possible.

Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms now needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.

The government has now instructed bars, restaurants and theatres to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis.

Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.

The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate.

People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake "shielding" for 12 weeks.

For more information on government advice, please check their website.

Should I avoid public places?

The advice now is to avoid public places and any non-essential travel.

Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

Sources: World Health Organisation and NHS