Coronavirus symptoms start showing after five days on average.

The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is spreading around the world and has infected more 114,000 people across 115 countries, with the death toll currently at 4,000 people.

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Scientists have been scrambling to learn more about the escalating outbreak, including Professor Justin Lessler and his team from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. They analysed 181 known coronavirus cases that were detected prior to 24 February, most of which involved travel to or from Wuhan, China – where the virus originated.

They discovered that the average time it took from exposure to onset of symptoms was 5.1 days, suggesting that the 14-day quarantine period currently recommended by health organisations such as America’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for individuals with likely exposure to the coronavirus is reasonable.

The analysis also shows that around 97.5 per cent of people who develop symptoms do so within 11.5 days of exposure. They also estimated that for every 10,000 individuals quarantined for 14 days, only about 101 would develop symptoms after being released from quarantine.

“Based on our analysis of publicly available data, the current recommendation of 14 days for active monitoring or quarantine is reasonable, although with that period some cases would be missed over the long-term,” said study senior author Professor Lessler.

He added that the findings, which were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal on Monday, were the best “rapid” estimate to date and there was still much to learn about the virus.

Responding to the study, Professor Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at University of Nottingham said, “As it stands there is little evidence to suggest that a quarantine or self-isolation period of 14 days is not suitable. Also, there is little if any evidence that people can routinely transmit virus during the asymptomatic period.”

Current health guidelines advise people to avoid close contact with people who are unwell, avoid touching the face, always washing hands thoroughly and regularly with soap and water, and using tissues to catch coughs and sneezes.

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