TWO months ago the chances of bumping into someone with the foggiest idea where Wuhan was would have been very small.

Sadly, the Chinese do not treat animals well and now China and the rest of the world is faced with the consequences.

It is known that the virus that is causing so much concern came from a wild animal that was being sold at a market in Wuhan.

Deadly influenza viruses along with haemorrhagic fevers like Ebola originate in the animal or bird kingdom and make the leap to humans due to close contact.

Up to now, the message seems to be, that there is not really that much to worry about - that most people will have no or mild symptoms. Sadly a small number of people who get the virus will die but these will largely be the young, elderly or people who have an underlying illness.

So far so good but actions speak louder than words.

The actions we see do not support such a reassuring prognosis. Towns and villages in China cordoned off like something out of medieval times, travel bans, new hospitals being put up, medical workers in space suits.

It is a disconnect that leaves people feeling that they are not being told the truth or at least not the whole truth.

What do the numbers tell us? As we knows there are lies, damned lies and statistics.

If we divide the number of cases by the number of people that have died then the mortality rate is not too alarming. But is it as simple as that?

Generally it seems that people who are going to die with the disease do so three weeks after being diagnosed.

Does this not mean that a more accurate figure for the mortality rate would be the number of deaths divided by the number of cases three weeks ago. On this basis it looks rather less benign.

One expert has suggested 60 per cent of the population of the UK could get the virus. If this happened, even with a mortality rate of one per cent, which is surely a low side estimate, there would be 360,000 deaths.

The truth is that we still know little about this virus.

A replay of the so-called Spanish flu of 1918-1920 that killed more than 50 million people worldwide is probably unlikely.

People are generally healthier and stronger now and 100 years ago there were no antibiotics. Whilst antibiotics are no use against viruses they can play a vital role in combating secondary bacterial infections that kill many people.

Of course, causing panic is not in the best interest of anyone. But if this is to be avoided, people must believe public health experts are being honest with them.