A third of coronavirus patients admitted to hospital in the UK are dying, a study has suggested, with figures indicating the virus is just as deadly as Ebola for those forced to seek emergency medical treatment.

The latest figures place the UK as the nation with the third highest death rate worldwide – with Italy and the US the only nations to have seen more confirmed fatalities.

Now a study of data representing 16,749 patients across 166 hospitals between early February and mid April has found almost half of those admitted did not have underlying health conditions – while obese people were 40 per cent more likely to die as a result of the virus than those who were not obese.

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Of the patients studied, 47 per cent had no underlying conditions, while 29 per cent had heart disease, 19 per cent had diabetes, 19 per cent had non-asthmatic chronic pulmonary disease and 14 per cent had asthma.

The study also found that women were 20 per cent less likely to die from the virus than men.

Overall, 49 per cent of patients were discharged alive during the study, 33 per cent died and 17 per cent continued to receive care.

The University of Liverpool’s Professor Calum Semple, who served as chief investigator on the study, which is yet to be peer reviewed, said: “Some people persist in believing that Covid-19 is no worse than a bad dose of flu.

“They are gravely mistaken. Despite the best supportive care that we can provide, the crude case fatality rate for people who are admitted to hospital – that is, the proportion of people ill enough to need hospital treatment who then die – with severe Covid-19 is 35 to 40 per cent, which is similar to that for people admitted to hospital with Ebola.

“People need to hear this, and get it into their heads, because the reason the government is keen to keep people to stay at home until the outbreak is quietening down, is that this is an incredibly dangerous disease ... It’s a really nasty disease.”

In the study, the most common symptoms reported included a cough, seen in 70 per cent of patients; fever, in 69 per cent; and shortness of breath, in 65 per cent.

Coughing up mucus, a sore throat, runny nose, wheeze, chest pain, muscle pain, joint pain, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea were all also observed.

Professor Semple added: “Covid is as dangerous as Ebola, because it’s highly transmissible, and it’s associated with a very high crude case fatality rate for those that go into hospital.”

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