Monday, January 25, 2021
COVID-19 is a Coronavirus, which is a family of viruses that originated in animals and which has transferred to humans. In most cases, when contracted by a human, it results in mild cold and flu-like symptoms.
Coronavirus is a respiratory illness. Those who have fallen ill are reported to suffer coughs, fever and breathing difficulties. Though the majority of cases are reported as mild, in more severe cases, the virus causes pneumonia, an infection that inflames the lungs and causes breathing difficulty. This is where the main danger lies.
The current death rate for those who contract COVID-19 stands at 2%.
As is the case with most respiratory illnesses, those most at risk include:
As this is a virus, antibiotics are of no use.
While the flu jab will not have any impact on the COVID-19 virus specifically, if you are within one of the at risk groups, it can reduce your chances of contracting the flu, which can cause further complications. As such we would recommend having the flu jab.
Yes, there are a number of vaccines available and these are being rolled-out as we speak, starting with the more at-risk groups.
What can I do to reduce my chance of infection?
Follow the hands, face, space guidance. Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water or, if hand washing facilities are not available, use a hand sanitising gel. Wear a face mask and avoid touching your face and keep a two-meter distance from others, when in public.
As a further preventative measure, wearing gloves may help as it avoids surface to hand to mouth/eye spread of the virus.
Over the past year, hospitals have learned to manage the large influx patients which have resulted from Coronavirus. The advice to the public is clear, if they are experiencing symptoms, they will need to stay at home and quarantine themselves for 10 days. Hospitals may plan to postpone routine appointments or surgery. People may prepare by ensuring they have the basics available such as non-perishable food items, in the event that they do have to self isolate.
Is there a cure for COVID-19?
There is no simple cure for Covid-19 – just as there is no cure for the common cold. Sufferers must simply manage the symptoms which include: a high temperature, a new continuous or persistent cough, a loss of your sense of taste or smell and shortness of breath.
Patients with COVID sometimes develop secondary pneumonia or other complications. If someone has shortness of breath or their symptoms are not improving they should discuss their concerns with 111 or their GP.
I have a holiday booked later this year, should I be cancelling?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is updating its travel advice daily. They are being very clear about the need to limit all but essential travel to affected countries, and travellers should respect this. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus . If you have upcoming holidays planned, check with your holiday provider to see if they have any contingency measures in place. Some airlines are offering passengers the option to rebook for a later date or an alternative destination. It would also be worth checking your holiday insurance to see what measures they are putting in place.
If you think you may have contracted Coronavirus do not go to a GP surgery, community pharmacy or hospital. Call 111, stay indoors and avoid close contact with other people.
You can book a COVID19 test yourself on the NHS website. GPs can not book COVID tests.
Authored by Dr Roisin Mchugh, on 1 March 2020.