BRITS are being urged to be alert to the signs and symptoms of coronavirus – as the deadly new bug continues to sweep the globe.

The number of cases of Covid-19 in the UK has surged to 280 – with experts warning of a "worst-case scenario" of 100,000 deaths.

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Covid-19 is believed to be spread via droplets produced from coughs and sneezes as well as touching surfaces.

Britain's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty said droplets can survive on bus and train handrails for up to three days.

Health bosses have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate as one top expert admitted we have "lost track of who has it".

Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, said: “We no longer know where the virus is.

"You could catch it from anyone, anywhere, anytime — in your supermarket, coffee shop, petrol station or pub.”

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is the name for a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS.

The new disease that emerged in Wuhan, China in December, was named Covid-19, by the World Health Organisation- and has never been seen in humans before the current outbreak.

Coronavirus attacks the respiratory system, causing pneumonia-like lung lesions.

The new strain is thought to have jumped from bats to humans, via a possible but unknown animal, in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

One of the best ways to protect yourself from catching Covid-19 is to be aware of the symptoms.

Here, we take you through the early warning signs to be aware of, how to protect yourself and when to get medical help…

What are the early warning signs?

As Covid-19 is a new virus, experts are still working to understand it.

According to the NHS and the World Health Organisation (WHO), early symptoms of coronavirus infection usually include:

  1. A cough and/or sore throat
  2. A high temperature
  3. Shortness of breath

These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness and 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 have discovered.

They warn that in some people, particularly those with underlying conditions, it can cause them to develop severe complications.

These 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.

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