Coronavirus: A Quick Guide

Based on advice from the NHS, and World Health Organisation (WHO).

What are the symptoms?

  • a high temperature (37.8 degrees C and above)
  • a new, continuous dry cough
  • Shortness of breath (in severe cases)

Other symptoms:  aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea.

N.B. these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Symptoms are similar to the common cold or flu.

What should I do if I have one or more of these symptoms?

  1. Stay at home for 7 days and avoid close contact with other people
  2. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
  3. Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

When should I contact 111?

First use the 111 online service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

The online service will tell you what action you should take next. Call 111 if you cannot get help online.

Source: CDC

How do I protect myself?

  1. Wash your hands often with soap and water for > 20 seconds. If not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  2. Catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue (“catch it, bin it, kill it”).
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  4. Avoid close contact* with people who are sick.
  5. Keep as healthy as you can (see tips below).

*Close contact = within 2 meters of someone for > 15 minutes.

Should I wear a mask?

“Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask” and there is a global shortage. [WHO]

Who is at risk?

Anyone can contract Coronavirus. Some will exhibit no symptoms. Most people (80%) will have mild-to-moderate symptoms that are self-limiting, similar to a winter flu [WHO]. A minority of people who will develop complications severe enough to require hospital care, most often pneumonia. Of these, a small proportion may have an illness severe enough that leads to death.

Based on current data []:

  • Elderly – higher risk of serious disease and death (in the same way as for seasonal flu).
  • Young adults – illness is less common and usually less severe.
  • Children – Can be infected and have severe illness, but overall illness seems rarer.
  • Pregnant women and babies – no increased risk of serious disease.
  • People with underlying health conditions (e.g. high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) – higher risk of serious disease and death (in the same way as for seasonal flu).

How long are you ill for?

If you have a mild cough and fever, symptoms should resolve within 7 days.

Is there a distinctive Coronavirus cough? No.

Should I self-isolate?

You do not need to self-isolate unless you have been advised to do so by 111. Self-isolation means, for up to 14 days you should:

  • stay at home
  • not go to work, school or public areas
  • not use public transport or taxis
  • ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you
  • try to avoid visitors to your home – it’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food

For more advice about self-isolation click here.

What treatments are there?

  • “There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
  • Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
  • Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
  • You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.” [NHS]

Should I stay away from elderly relatives?

The government has not issued any advice suggesting older people should be kept away from the wider population. If you are experiencing symptoms and recently been in close contact with someone who potentially has the virus, it is advised that you stay home and avoid close contact with others.

How to wash your hands properly:

Clean hands protect against infection [WHO]

Other questions

How worried should I be?

“Illness due to COVID-19 infection is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. However, it can cause serious illness: about 1 in every 5 people who catch it need hospital care. It is therefore quite normal for people to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect them and their loved ones. 

We can channel our concerns into actions to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities. First and foremost among these actions is regular and thorough hand-washing and good respiratory hygiene. Secondly, keep informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.”

What stage are we at in and why aren’t the government doing more?

The UK has recently moved from the CONTAIN phase to the DELAY phase: “slow the spread in this country, if it does take hold, lowering the peak impact and pushing it away from the winter season”. []

The stages (1) Contain, (2) Delay, (3) Research, (4) Mitigate.

“If we introduce this next stage too early, the measures will not protect us at the time of greatest risk but could have a huge social impact. We need to time this properly, continue to do the right thing at the right time, so we get the maximum effect for delaying the virus. We will clearly announce when we ask the public to move to this next stage.” []

Should I stockpile supplies?

If you have to self-isolate for 14 days, think about what you’ll need. Do not stockpile as this can create further problems in the supply chain. [BBC News live]

Will travel insurance cover me if UK citizens are banned from my destination?

  • Have this conversation with your insurance holder.
  • Check if you have travel disruption cover. It’s becoming increasingly hard to buy this with some insurance companies.
  • Don’t cancel your trips straight away as this may be guaranteed to lose you money. There may be enhanced cancellation rights with companies such as AirBnB.

Click here for more travel advice.

I have a big event planned coming up. What will happen?

If events are cancelled, you should gain a full refund. If you have organised an event yourself, make sure you have appropriate insurance.

Tips for supporting your immune system to fight colds and coronavirus

  • Eat a nutritious diet
  • Keep exercising
  • Stay hydrated
  • Sleep well (7 – 9 hours a night for most people)
  • Minimise alcohol intake
  • Minimise negative mental and physical stress

by Rebekah Jade BSc


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