Coronavirus could return every winter 'like the common cold', experts say

George Martin
·2-min read
People wearing face masks on the London Underground, as the first case of coronavirus has been confirmed in Wales and two more were identified in England - bringing the total number in the UK to 19.
People wearing face masks on the London Underground. (PA)

Experts have warned that Covid-19 could return every year “like the common cold” and cause deaths over the winter months.

Professor John Oxford, a virologist from Queen Mary University of London, said Covid-19 bore similarities to other forms of coronavirus which are known to infect people in waves.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Professor Oxford warned it had “enough characteristics” similar to the viruses we've known about for the last 50 years for it to eventually “settle down and become seasonal”.

“It’s a question of crystal ball gazing but if you look at other members of the coronavirus family, that are respiratory viruses and we've known about them for the last 50 years or more, they're seasonal,” Professor Oxford said.

A man wearing a mask takes a picture in Parliament Square, in London, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. Two cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Britain. The World Health Organization declared a global health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
A man wearing a mask takes a picture in Parliament Square over the weekend. (Getty)

“They're just like the common cold, there's probably a few thousand people infected with them at the moment in England.

“Whether Covid-19 will fit into that pattern or not, we will just have to wait and see but my guess is it will.”

Read more: Boris Johnson announces coronavirus 'battle plan' as three more cases confirmed

Professor Oxford said that the disease becoming seasonal may allow researchers to find a better cure for it.

“My hope is that this virus will be seasonal and that the coming spring and summer may help us in our battle against the virus and it may have a very significant effect,” he said.

“As spring approaches it's not to do with the virus it's to do with us, we do something different in our habits and that makes the virus less transferable and transmittable.”

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There have been 23 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK, with more than 10,000 people having been tested.

There have been 21 cases diagnosed in England, one in Northern Ireland and one in Wales. Only one British national has so far died from the disease.

The 20th case was the first transmission of coronavirus within the UK and the Department of Health and Social Care said the original source was “unclear”.

Eight of the confirmed UK cases have been discharged from hospital.