The coronavirus could damage people’s kidneys and send their immune systems ‘haywire’ as well as infecting the lungs, according to scientists.
More than 90,000 people have now been infected with the disease, which is known to cause serious lung damage and deadly pneumonia.
It does this by attaching to and reproducing in tissue inside the lungs, where it kills cells in the process of spreading.
As the cells are killed they drop off the lungs’ linings and build up in clumps inside the organs, making it hard to breathe and triggering further infections.
The virus can also send the immune system into overdrive as it tries to fight off infection, triggering swelling which can lead to more breathing difficulties.
If a severe infection takes hold it may move on to cause damage or dysfunction to the stomach, intestines, heart, liver and kidneys, and even provoke organ failure.
Around 90,000 people around the world have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of January, and more than 3,000 patients have died.
It comes as scientists today warned the coronavirus could become an infection that never goes away and causes seasonal outbreaks of illness, like flu.
Experts say the difficulty of containing the coronavirus is that so many patients have mild, cold-like symptoms and don’t realise they have the infection – but it can quickly turn deadly
The coronavirus outbreak, which is teetering on the edge of becoming a global pandemic, has so far infected almost 90,000 people worldwide and killed more than 3,000
The coronavirus is officially a respiratory infection, meaning it affects the lungs and airways. Typical symptoms are a cough, trouble breathing and a fever.
Among people who die from the infection – around 3.4 per cent of all patients, according to latest figures – most suffer from pneumonia, a lung infection which causes the airways to fill with fluid.
Professor Mark Fielder, a biologist at Kingston University in London, said scientists have recently pinpointed the types of cells the virus appears to attack.
COULD CORONAVIRUS BE SEASONAL?
The coronavirus could become an infection that never goes away and causes seasonal outbreaks of illness, according to scientists.
Countries around the world are in the grip of the first ever epidemics of the virus, which has infected around 90,000 people and killed more than 3,000.
But scientists now say the coronavirus may never go away completely and that it could become a perennial illness like colds, chest infections and flu.
These are viral illnesses that go round every winter, cannot be cured and that people often don’t development immunity to because they change so often.
The coronavirus, which has so far killed just over three per cent of everyone who has caught it, could follow in the same footsteps and become a normalised illness.
He told Sky News that goblet cells and ciliated cells are the ones most affected by the coronavirus.
They are responsible for keeping the inside of the lungs moist and clearing them of any debris like dust or bacteria.
‘The problem we’ve got here is the virus infects these cells and starts to kill them,’ Professor Fielder said.
‘And as it kills them as part of its replication process, tissue falls into the lungs, and the lungs start to get blockages. And that blockage might mean that the patient develops pneumonia.’
This could trigger pneumonia as the viruses and dead tissue clog up parts of the lungs and make them swell up, producing fluid which can block breathing.
The immune system can also worsen the symptoms of COVID-19 by going ‘haywire’ and damaging healthy tissue in its attempts to stop the virus, Professor Fielder said.
He told Sky: ‘It can actually almost over attack, and become what we call hyperimmune, and set up a large attack which can then start to damage the healthy tissue underneath.’
The coronavirus may also damage other internal organs as it takes hold in the body.
Researchers have found signs that coronavirus patients have had damaged livers and kidneys, but there is little evidence to prove the virus caused it.
Lung problems can reduce the amount of oxygen which circulates through the body, Dr James Cherry at the University of California, Los Angeles told Healthline, in turn starving organs like the kidneys of the oxygen they need to function properly.
Organ failure is a serious health emergency and can kill if it’s not repaired quickly.
Dr Laura Evans, from the University of Washington, added that a ‘good proportion’ of people with severe coronavirus infections developed problems with other organs.
Coronavirus attaches to human cells by deceiving an enzyme which can make it ‘fuse’ to proteins inside the body and cause the infection
In little over a month more than 10,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in Britain, of which 36 came back positive
Coronavirus explained: What are the chances I will die? How do I avoid it? Is it all a big fuss over nothing? World experts answer your questions
CORONAVIRUS COULD BE 1,000 TIMES MORE INFECTIOUS THAN SARS
The coronavirus could be up to 1,000 times more infectious than SARS because it plagues the body in the same way as HIV and Ebola, scientists warn.
Experts initially presumed the spread of COVID-19 would follow the same trajectory as the SARS outbreak in 2002/3, because the viruses are almost identical genetically.
SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, infected 8,000 people worldwide and killed 774 people in a year in 2002.
But in just two months the current coronavirus crisis has already hit around 90,000 and over 3,000 have succumbed to the illness.
Nankai University researchers looked at the genome sequence of COVID-19 and found a section of mutated genes that did not exist in SARS.
Instead the coronavirus has ‘cleavage sites’ similar to those in HIV and Ebola, which carry viral proteins that are dormant and have to be ‘cut’ to be activated.
HIV and Ebola target an enzyme called furin, which is responsible for cutting and activating these proteins when they enter the body.
The viruses trick furin so it activates them and causes a ‘direct fusion’ between the virus and the human cells. COVID-19 binds to cells in a similar way, the scientists found.
‘This finding suggests [the new coronavirus] may be significantly different from the SARS coronavirus in the infection pathway,’ the scientists said in the paper.
‘Compared to the SARS’ way of entry, this binding method is “100 to 1,000 times” as efficient,’ they wrote.
The study was published on Chinaxiv.org, an online platform used by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
It’s hard not to feel a sense of impending doom when reading about the coronavirus infection that is rapidly sweeping the globe.
Figures show it has killed more than 3,000 and infected almost 90,000 people in at least 65 countries.
The majority of infections and deaths are in the Hubei province of China, where the never-before-seen virus emerged at the end of December.
But in Italy, nearly 5,000miles (8,046km) from the source, cases have surged, forcing some northern towns – home to 55,000 people – into lockdown.
Twelve Italians have died so far, and on Friday the first British fatality, a passenger aboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner quarantined in Japan, was reported.
In the UK, of the more than 11,000 who have been tested for the virus, 36 have been diagnosed. No deaths on British soil have been recorded.
Plans are in place to close schools, disrupt public transport and postpone major sports events, if the situation turns into a crisis.
But for now, leading experts are urging the public to prepare and take measures to help prevent the spread of illness.
The world wants to know what to do about it and so – from risks to the elderly or ill and how to self-quarantine, to what ordinary people can do to protect themselves – we asked some of the world’s leading experts for answers to the big coronavirus questions.
How do you catch this virus?
Covid-19 seems to spread much like flu, through coughs and sneezes. Once contracted, it lives and replicates in the tissues that line the airways.
Secretions from these tissues – mucus and saliva – therefore also contain the virus. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, or simply talks, tiny droplets of moisture are expelled into the air, carrying the virus out of the body.
Unless you are directly in the firing line, you should be safe. Droplets travel only up to 7ft.
A woman pictured with a medical mask covering her face. The only reason to wear a mask in public is if you think you are infected – to protect others (file photo)
Struggling: Pope Francis wipes his nose as he takes part in the penitential procession on Ash Wednesday in Rome, Italy, on February 26. He said yesterday he was only suffering from a cold
But another risk comes when people cover their cough or sneeze with their hand and then touch something other people touch, such as a door knob or tap. Touch a contaminated surface, then touch your own mouth or nose, and the virus can be transmitted.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the coronavirus can live on surfaces for several days.
Günter Kampf of the University of Greifswald in Germany says such viruses can be killed by disinfectants such as alcohol or bleach – but many things we touch every day on transport or in public buildings are not frequently disinfected.
If 14 per cent of those infected develop a severe disease and five per cent of them are critically ill, it could be a ‘massive threat’ according to an interview Dr Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, gave The Times.
‘It doesn’t present like a common cold and the symptoms can range from completely unapparent to serious disease to going into intensive care.
‘From what we have learnt so far, it seems that virus shedding – the transmission stage from infected persons – is going on relatively early during the course of infection.
‘Tests can quite often become negative but then sometimes go positive again,’ he said.
According to Alistair Miles, head of epidemiological informatics, Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics, we should stop touching our faces.
He told The Times: ‘Stop touching your face. Especially stop touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
‘Wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching food.
‘While a mask seems like a good idea, there isn’t a lot of good evidence that it can reliably prevent infection when worn by the public. But they are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus.’
He said: ‘It looks unlikely this will be over quickly. It may be with us into next year and might eventually become a seasonal infection, returning each winter.’
Could I die if I get it?
It depends to some extent on how old you are. Covid-19 barely even causes symptoms in children, even babies, and in China is not known to have caused any deaths in under-tens. The main concern with children is that if they catch the virus they may pass it on to older at-risk individuals. This is why some headteachers have chosen to close schools, but this is not yet official policy.
According to the most recent data from the China Centre for Disease Control, death rates are 0.2 to 0.4 per cent between the ages of ten and 50, but then start climbing.
Deep cleaning: A worker in a protective suit disinfects a tram car in Pyongyang, North Korea, on February 26. Symptoms of Covid-19 are a fever, a cough or trouble breathing
You have a 1.3 per cent chance of dying from it in your 50s, a 3.6 per cent risk in your 60s, an eight per cent risk in your 70s, and a 14.8 per cent risk in your 80s.
Risk climbs with age because older people more often have other diseases, such as cancer or conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or pulmonary disease, which worsen Covid-19.
Professor Neil Ferguson, on the faculty of medicine at Imperial College London, told The Times: ‘China seems to be suppressing transmission at the moment. In Italy we think there are many thousands of cases distributed across the country. In Iran there are tens of thousands, if not more.
‘We calculated with an enormous amount of uncertainty that one per cent of those infected might die – with a fourfold margin of error in each direction. So a death rate of 0.25 per cent of cases would be similar to the 1957 and 1968 influenza pandemics while a four per cent rate would compare with the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic (with a death toll estimated at 40 million to 50 million).
I have a horrible cold – could it be coronavirus?
Symptoms of Covid-19 are not like those of a cold: it causes a fever, a cough and trouble breathing, not a runny nose or congestion. Most cases appear to be mild.
If it’s mild, could I have the virus and not know it?
The short answer is yes. Although at present only those who have been in contact with people known to be infected or who have been to a high-risk area (a full list of these locations comes later) should ask about being tested.
Expert warnings about bats ignored for years
This kind of virus was, until recently, found only in East Asian bats – and it doesn’t harm them.
The virus is thought to have got to humans via bats sold in Chinese markets for food or traditional medicine, or via some other species also sold in the markets. Chinese scientists and some foreign colleagues have been warning for years that these bats were a risk.
The first human cases were in December, in people with links to a wildlife market in the city of Wuhan: many worked there. After an initial attempt by local officials to hush up the outbreak, China launched a massive effort to contain the virus, shutting down Wuhan, which is bigger than London.
In the Hubei province, where Wuhan is, case numbers now seem to be falling.
But in a globalised economy with close trade and travel links, it was impossible to stop the virus getting out.
It takes from two to 14 days after being infected by the virus to show symptoms – the average is five days. Chinese scientists say 80 per cent of all cases are quite mild. Some victims have barely any symptoms at all, so if you get sick you might not realise it’s Covid-19.
Worryingly, it seems to be possible for people to spread it before they start showing symptoms – or even if they never do. Scientists at the Guangdong Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in China found one Covid-19 patient who showed no symptoms but had as much virus in his nose as people who had symptoms.
In Germany, a woman with very mild symptoms – not enough to make her or anyone else suspicious – passed the virus to two people who shared a meeting room with her, who then passed it to two more people before they got symptoms.
During the 2002 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, it was discovered that people were infectious – with a high enough concentration of the virus in their fluids – only after they developed symptoms.
This meant that isolating patients, to stop it spreading, was more straightforward. This time, ‘if people are infectious and spreading the virus before symptoms, then containment becomes much more difficult,’ warns Caroline Buckee of Harvard Medical School in the US.
There have been these outbreaks before, like SARS, and we got through it. Do we really need to worry now?
Experts have urged the public not to panic – however, people are being advised to stay informed.
SARS infected more than 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in 29 countries in less than a year.
It went away because it spread poorly among people, and only after symptoms started.
Safe: Airport staff check the temperature of a passenger travelling from Milan, Italy, as part of the coronavirus screening procedure at the Debrecen airport in Hungary
There was also a massive global campaign, led by the WHO, to isolate people who had been exposed.
‘It took a lot of hard work,’ says David Heymann of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who led that campaign at the WHO. ‘And we were lucky.’
SARS never invaded any developing countries which might have had trouble organising the surveillance and isolation required.
This coronavirus spreads more readily, and has already infected more than ten times as many people, on all continents.
But really, don’t more people die each year from falling down stairs than will be killed by coronavirus?
More people do die in a year falling on stairs in the UK – 787 last year – than die of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, which killed 428. Few would argue that HIV is trivial, or not something to avoid.
At present, it is believed that one per cent of Covid-19 cases die. But this makes it as deadly as the 1918 ‘Spanish’ flu – one of the worst pandemics known, thought to have killed up to 50million worldwide.
Should I wear a mask in public?
No. Studies show they do not really protect you from being infected. Some think it makes you touch your face less, but others report it makes you do it more.
The only reason to wear a mask in public is if you think you are infected – to protect others.
No risks: Commuters on a train in Milan, Italy, cover up completely. But studies show that wearing a face mask does not really protect you from being infected
And, regardless, those who suspect they are infected are advised to stay at home and self-isolate (more on this later).
Current advice from Public Health England is to wear one at home if you are caring for a sick person – and if you get sick, to stop you infecting others. The NHS may give you some if they tell you to self-quarantine.
But don’t buy large quantities of masks. There is a global shortage and the close-fitting ‘respirator’ style ones, like N95 or FP2, which are similar to those worn by builders to protect them from toxic fumes, should be saved for the healthcare workers who will really need them.
I think I’ve been exposed, but I feel fine. What should I do?
Do not go to a clinic or the doctor’s without calling first. If you have the virus, you could infect more vulnerable people.
The current official advice is this: if you have visited Hubei province in China in the past 14 days, or Iran, northern Italy and the Daegu and Cheongdo areas of South Korea since February 19, call NHS 111 – even if you do not have symptoms.
You may well be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
If there is a risk that you may be infected, other family members or close contacts may also need to be contacted and questioned.
Stuck indoors: A guest wears a protective face mask as he stands by an open window at H10 Costa Adeje Palace, which is on lockdown over cases of cornoavirus, in Tenerife, Spain
You should also contact the NHS on 111 if you have a cough, high temperature or are suffering shortness of breath and have been to other parts of mainland China or South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan or Thailand in the past 14 days, or other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar or Vietnam since February 19.
You should call the helpline if you think you may have been in close contact with someone who is infected. Even if you’ve been to a high-risk area, from what we know so far, if you don’t develop symptoms in 14 days, you don’t have the virus.
This list may change, and the latest advice for England and Wales is on gov.uk.
How do I isolate myself?
Public Health England says stay home for 14 days.
It means not going to work or school – employers and school heads should be informed.
Do not go to public areas such as parks or shops and public transport or use taxis. Avoid having visitors, and ask friends, family or delivery services to get the shopping – and put it down outside, where you can pick it up.
Sweaty: Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi wipes the swear off his face during a press conference in Tehran, before he confirmed being tested positive for coronavirus
If you share a home with others, and they have not been advised to self-isolate, then stay in a separate, well-ventilated room.
If you share a bathroom, use it after other people, use separate towels – and then clean it.
If you share a kitchen, try not to use it when others do, eat in your room and wear a mask if others are there. Stopping you from infecting others is the one thing a surgical mask is good for. Public Health England advise that if a family returns from somewhere that requires quarantine when they get back, they can stay together and don’t have to be in separate rooms.
Isn’t staying home for two weeks a bit extreme?
Self-isolation for two weeks may be an unpleasant prospect. But it is absolutely vital, aimed at stopping the virus from getting loose and circulating generally, whereupon there will be far more cases, and it will be harder to protect the vulnerable, such as the elderly.
Dirty money: A bank clerk disinfects banknotes in the quarters of Suining Bank. China’s central bank has ordered to disinfect cash and destroy cash received from hospitals
Officials may also try to slow the spread of the virus by cancelling large gatherings and perhaps shutting down schools or transport.
Apparently people with flu symptoms in some areas of the UK are being tested now. Why?
Covid-19 is diagnosed by looking for the virus in samples taken from the nose or mouth. The UK has mostly tested people with risky travel or contact history.
But Public Health England is now working with some hospitals and GP surgeries to test other patients, to see if the virus has already spread more widely.
It’s not snake flu, so what do we call it?
Coronavirus seems to be what most people are calling the infection. But it’s not quite right – that’s the name of the family of viruses this thing belongs to.
When looked at under a high-powered microscope, the virus is round with knobs on the outside that make it look like a little crown, hence ‘corona’. You’ve probably had one already: two coronaviruses cause common colds in people.
Another coronavirus caused the disease SARS, which first emerged in 2002 in China, then died out within a few years.
The official name for this infection is Covid-19, invented in February by the World Health Organisation from COrona VIrus Disease, and 2019, the year it emerged.
At the same time the virus itself was named SARS-CoV-2 by a team of 17 virologists from six countries, who say it is actually the same species as the SARS virus.
But a few small genetic differences mean it spreads much more readily among people than SARS did – which is why we haven’t been able to stop it as we did SARS.
Fortunately, it is also only about a tenth as deadly as SARS. Some early reports called the virus ‘snake flu’ – a reference to early theories that it crossed into humans from snakes eaten as food.
But it’s not flu, and the snake theory was quickly debunked.
In eight hospitals, patients in intensive care with severe respiratory infections will be tested.
In 100 GP surgeries, those coming in with milder flu-like symptoms – dry coughs, fever, shortness of breath – will be tested. As of Saturday, two cases had been found.
What can I do to protect myself, and my family, if the virus starts spreading in the UK?
‘Think through how you will look after infected family members while avoiding infection yourself,’ says risk expert Peter Sandman.
‘Maybe get some plastic gloves in the case of caring for someone who is sick – perhaps a few disposable surgical masks to wear, for the same reason. Plan what to do for childcare if you or they are sick,’ he advises.
Possibilities include making arrangements with neighbours or family to care for each other’s children if one or the other is sick – or see whether there are any emergency arrangements being organised in your community.
When you are in public places, wash your hands often with soap, or at least alcohol-based hand cleaner, in case you’ve picked up the virus from some surface.
If you must touch a public surface, don’t touch your face afterwards until you’ve washed.
You can wear gloves, but don’t touch your face with those without taking them off first.
Use a knuckle to push elevator buttons and a tissue to open doors and hold railings. Substitute an elbow bump for a handshake.
Practise not touching your face when you are out in public, says Sandman. It’s hard, he admits, but not a bad skill to acquire.
Sneeze or cough into a tissue (then bin it), or your elbow – as the old saying goes, it’s coughs and sneezes that spread diseases.
I’ve read that there’s no vaccine for this virus. Will a flu jab protect me?
Scientists are racing to come up with a vaccine or an antiviral drug for Covid-19, and some are now being tested, in record time.
But there is currently no specific treatment, as it is an entirely new virus. Realistically, it’s not going to be available until next year.
A sunbather wears a face mask in the pool of H10 Costa Adeje Palace, which is on lockdown after cases of coronavirus were detected there, in Tenerife
Coronaviruses are different from flu viruses, so the flu jab won’t offer protection.
However, if you’re in a high-risk group for flu, and are eligible for a jab, it is advisable to have one. You don’t want complications of flu at a time when hospitals may be stretched by Covid-19 patients.
I know people who have recently come back from holiday, and are now ill. Should they be self-quarantining? And if they aren’t, should I call the police or someone else?
It is still flu season – other illnesses can be in circulation. The UK is advising self-quarantine only for people exposed to a known case, or who went to places where they might have encountered the virus. Check online for the current list of such places, and call the NHS, not the police, if you have doubts.
My child’s school has been closed due to children there having come back from a high-risk area. Should we be self-isolating now?
The school closed so you wouldn’t be exposed, and you will not have to self-quarantine.
People wearing protective face masks, following an outbreak of coronavirus, are seen in front of the giant Olympic rings at the waterfront area of Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan
Is it safe to travel at all right now?
If you’re going somewhere with the same or lower levels of the virus than the UK, there seems little reason not to. In airports, rail terminals or other places where people with the virus may have been, take the precautions mentioned above. Don’t go close to places that have large or suspected outbreaks – this virus can spread fast. Check gov.uk for the latest travel advice.
Dr Carmen Dolea, head of International Health Regulations Secretariat, World Health Organisation, told The Times: ‘Aircraft cabins are absolutely not dangerous and travellers do not need to cancel their plans unless visiting restricted.
‘The International Air Traffic Association (Iata) maintains an up-to-date list on its Travel Centre website.
‘The best thing to do in aircraft cabins is to practise proper hand hygiene with alcohol-based rub or gels, and to use coughing etiquette.
‘Make sure you cough and sneeze into your elbow, use a tissue and throw it in a bin.’
I’ve read that the virus jumps from animal to humans. Could my dog be at risk?
No. The WHO says there is no evidence of any involvement of cats or dogs with this virus.
Last week’s reports about a dog in Hong Kong testing ‘weak positive’ for coronavirus were ‘incredibly irresponsible’, according to Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology at the University of Nottingham.
Experts say that the test probably picked up a bit of virus from contamination in the environment, not because the dog was infected.
The coronavirus is thought to have come originally from East Asian fruit bats – so unless you have one of those for a pet, you’re OK.
Even if you do have a bat, it will be fine – the virus doesn’t hurt them.
THE PHYSICAL STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO AVOID CATCHING CORONAVIRUS
Wash your hands
The World Health Organization’s advice is for people to wash their hands at least five times a day with soap and water or hand sanitiser.
Friction, experts say, is the key to scrubbing off any signs of infection.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson today insisted the public should remember to wash their hands frequently, while singing Happy Birthday twice.
Proper handwashing involves rubbing the palms together, rubbing the backs of the hands, interlocking fingers both backwards and forwards, scrubbing the thumbs and washing the fingertips.
Avoid hugs and hand-shakes
Keeping people apart is one of the main ways governments can attempt to stop the spread of the virus – what officials call ‘social distancing measures’.
In Italy, France and Switzerland, for example, public gatherings of large groups of people have been cancelled or banned.
And the French government has urged people to avoid ‘la bise’ – the traditional greeting of kissing someone on either cheek – and not to shake hands.
Health minister Olivier Veran said: ‘The reduction in social contacts of a physical nature is advised. That includes the practice of the bise,’ Bloomberg reported.
It comes as Germany’s interior minister today refused to shake Angela Merkel’s hand today amid a growing coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Resort to ‘air handshakes’
The handshake is becoming a taboo greeting among workers, as employees and clients fear the spread of coronavirus in the workplace.
A motivational speaker and presentation coach has now devised the ‘air handshake’ because of the ‘unfolding coronavirus situation’.
Richard McCann hosted an event in Leeds on Saturday and later posted a video that showed him greeting a man with an air handshake.
Posting to his social media accounts, Mr McCann questioned whether was being paranoid for not shaking the hands of those attending his £300 per-ticket event.
Experts say the most common way the coronavirus is thought to spread is by people touching surfaces which have been contaminated by an infected patient.
This works by somebody who has got the disease coughing or sneezing onto their hand, then touching a surface while they have the viruses on their hands.
The viruses then survive on that surface – such as a doorknob or a handrail on a train – and are picked up by the next person who touches it, who then touches their face and transfers the virus into their mouth, nose or eyes.
Beware doorknobs, lift buttons and handrails
‘The lifts and the public toilets, these are the places where I would be very, very careful about touching any surfaces to not risk a coronavirus infection.’
He said that a lift was a particularly high risk place because everybody is trapped breathing the same air and having to press the same buttons.
One tip he saw on social media suggested pushing lift buttons with a pen rather than a finger. According to Alistair Miles, an Oxford University researcher, everyone should stop touching their faces.
He said in a tweet: ‘Stop touching your face. Especially stop touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This is much much harder than it sounds, and takes practice. But if you start practising now, you will quickly get a lot better at it.’
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