As COVID 19, a viral illness sweeps across the world, our country faces an unprecedented challenge. Here are some things you ought to know about this illness.
(Source: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ )
What is COVID 19?
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called corona virus. Although its initial symptoms resemble the flu, it is not the same illness. We do not know exactly how corona virus spreads from person to person. Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. It is very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.
What are is its symptoms?
Its commonest symptoms are fever, cough and shortness of breath. There can also be a sore throat, body ache and tiredness. You can already see the similarities with an attack of the flu, but COVID 19 has the potential to be more serious, particularly in the elderly and those with underlying physical conditions and hence the concern.
What is the advice that I have to follow if I have symptoms?
Stay at home if you have either:
a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Use the 111 online corona virus service to find out what to do https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
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How long do I stay at home?
If you have symptoms of corona virus, you’ll need to stay at home for 7 days. If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
How to avoid catching and spreading corona virus (social distancing)?
Everyone should do what they can to stop corona virus spreading. It is particularly important for people who: are 70 or over, have a long-term condition (having treatment for respiratory and cardiac conditions, cancers, etc), are pregnant or have a weakened immune system. The NHS will contact you from Monday 23 March 2020 if you are at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with corona virus. You’ll be given specific advice about what to do.
• wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
• always wash your hands when you get home or into work
• use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
• cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
• put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
• avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of corona virus
• only travel on public transport if you need to
• work from home, if you can
• avoid social activities, such as going to pubs, restaurants, gyms, theatres and cinemas
• avoid events with large groups of people
• use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services
• do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
• do not have visitors to your home, including friends and family
Treatment for corona virus
There is currently no specific treatment for corona virus. 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. People who become seriously ill will need treatment in hospital to support their body to fight the illness.
While the advice to socially distance is quite clear, it often raises practical difficulties for particular groups- the ones who already live alone or are relatively isolated or the household where all its members are part of a high risk group. As a community, we need to ease this process as much as possible for them. Elsewhere in this issue, Rev Rosie Bunn gives details of resources that are available for this purpose and this magazine too will do its bit to advise and connect should you choose to contact us.
Finally, a personal reflection about those who are fighting this on the frontline- a group often doing so at considerable personal cost and without the most ideal of protective equipment. There are tens of thousands of them in our public services, ordinary men and women – cleaners and porters, delivery drivers and home carers, doctors and nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, social workers and therapists, the list goes on. These are people driven by an imperative that is higher than their own personal causes, an imperative that brought them into the caring professions in the first place. It is an imperative that sustains them even more in the face of adversity. These are people whose role on the frontline concerns their parents, vexes their children and worries their loved ones. Be kind to them. As you go about your daily lives, stocking up your supplies, do think about them and their needs too. Let the healthcare assistant, nurse or hospital support worker looking after our near and dear ones and coming off busy shifts, not have the additional stress of shelves that are empty and aisles that have been stripped bare. We all have a responsibility to be kind and thoughtful. Stay well all of you. Best wishes
Professor (Dr) Regi Alexander