Health officials around the world are on high alert as a new disease in China has infected hundreds of people.

A new coronavirus from the same family as SARS has been identified by scientists and authorities in China are working hard to contain the outbreak.

Currently known as 2019-nCoV, it is believed to have originated in a wholesale seafood market in the city of Wuhan, with the first cases reported in December 2019.

What is it coronavirus?

The Wuhan Coronavirus originated in China. Public Health England (PHE) is currently using the name Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV) for the new strand until there is an internationally accepted name for the virus and the disease or syndrome it cause.

It has killed at least 17 people, and infected more than 500.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with some causing less-severe disease, such as the common cold, and others causing more severe disease such as Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronaviruses.

Although evidence is still emerging, information to date indicates human-to-human transmission is occurring.

Coronaviruses are mainly transmitted by large respiratory droplets and direct or indirect contact with infected secretions.

What are the symptoms of the China coronavirus?

Health officials in China have reported that early symptoms of the new coronavirus include a high fever, shortness of breath, coughing and tightness of the chest.

It causes viral pneumonia, and in severe cases it has led to kidney failure and death.

People with weakened immune systems, babies and the elderly are particularly susceptible to coronaviruses.

How easily can it be transmitted?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said there is evidence of transmission between people in close contact, such as families or those in health care settings.

But it said it has not seen any evidence of onward transmission.

Dr Andrew Freedman, reader in infectious diseases at Cardiff University, said it is not clear how contagious the virus is.

He said: "This is important in determining the risk of a much larger outbreak developing, with spread to people who have not travelled to Wuhan.

"It is likely that the US and other countries will be considering what further measures are needed to limit the risk of more cases arriving from China."

Is it fatal?

So far (as of January 24) 26 people are reported to have died of the coronavirus, although many are thought to have had pre-existing medical conditions.

Over 800 have been infected.

Is there a treatment for coronavirus?

As the coronavirus is a virus, there is no treatment.

Patients can be given pain medication to relieve the symptoms, but the virus will not respond to antibiotics.

Could cases be confirmed in the UK?

A handful of cases have been identified abroad, including in Japan and the US, but there have been no confirmed cases in the UK.

Officials from Public Health England have been monitoring direct flights from Wuhan city to the UK.

Professor Neil Ferguson, director of the Medical Research Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, said the UK is not a major destination of visitors travelling out of Wuhan.

But, he said: "Border screening and in this case, in the UK, alerting the health system, is not 100 per cent foolproof - there could be a mild case."