WITH coronavirus quickly spreading, people are being urged to look out for the key signs of the deadly illness.
In particular, the NHS says the main symptoms of Covid-19 are a new, continuous cough, a high temperature meaning you feel hot to touch on your chest or back and shortness of breath.
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However, US scientists have now claimed that those with Covid-19 might actually experience a tummy ache before developing these flu-like symptoms.
A new study, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, suggests people might experience digestive issues, such as diarrhoea, when they are infected with coronavirus.
Researchers analysed data from 204 patients with Covid-19 in China’s Hubei province and they discovered that 48.5 percent of these patients arrived at the hospital with digestive symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting or abdominal pain.
Following this, the researchers stated that, for some people, digestive symptoms may present itself first before the respiratory symptoms of Covid-19.
On top of this, the people included in the study also had a more severe case of illness.
Brennan M.R. Spiegel, co-editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Gastroenterology, said: "In this study, Covid-19 patients with digestive symptoms have a worse clinical outcome and higher risk of mortality compared to those without digestive symptoms, emphasising the importance of including symptoms like diarrhoea to suspect Covid-19 early in the disease course before respiratory symptoms develop."
Despite this revelation, people should still be vigilant in looking out for the primary symptoms of coronavirus including a dry cough and high temperature – as Covid-19 primarily attacks the lungs and respiratory system of the person that it has infected.
Some patients may also have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose or a sore throat – but these are usually mild and begin gradually.
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Developing these symptoms does not necessarily mean you have the illness and they are similar to other illnesses, such as the common cold or flu.
Some people will not develop all of these symptoms – and some might not even show symptoms at all, experts say.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK's chief scientific adviser, said: "It looks quite likely that there is some degree of asymptomatic transmission.
"There’s definitely quite a lot of transmission very early in the disease when there are very mild symptoms."
Around one out of every six who gets Covid-19 become seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are at most risk developing serious illness.
This can include pneumonia and swelling in the lungs, which can make it hard for the lungs to pass oxygen into the bloodstream – leading to organ failure and death.
Severe pneumonia can kill people by causing them to "drown" in the fluid flooding their lungs.
People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention, the WHO says.
The virus is believed to be transmitted between people through droplets spread from coughing and touching or shaking hands.
While sneezing is not a symptom of the new coronavirus, it also thought to be a way that droplets can be spread.
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Symptoms are thought to appear between two and 11 days.
New research has found that the average incubation period of Covid-19 is 5.1 days.
A study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in the US found that almost all (97.5 per cent) of those who develop symptoms appeared to do so within 11.5 days of infection.
Experts say there is little evidence to suggest that people can spread the virus without showing symptoms.
Currently, there is no vaccine to protect people against the virus.
Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses – only bacteria.
The NHS says that treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
Those who are infected will need to stay in isolation away from other people until they have recovered.
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