Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.
RECOMMENDATIONS AND ADVICE FOR THE PUBLIC.
If you are not in an area where COVID-19 is spreading or have not travelled from an area where COVID-19 is spreading or have not been in contact with an infected patient, your risk of infection is low. It is understandable that you may feel anxious about the outbreak. Get the facts from reliable sources to help you accurately determine your risks so that you can take reasonable precautions Seek guidance from your healthcare provider, your national public health authority or your employer for accurate information on COVID-19 and whether COVID-19 is circulating where you live. It is important to be informed of the situation and take appropriate measures to protect yourself and your family.
If you are in an area where there are cases of COVID-19 you need to take the risk of infection seriously. Follow the advice of WHO and guidance issued by national and local health authorities. For most people, COVID-19 infection will cause mild illness however, it can make some people very ill and, in some people, it can be fatal. Older people, and those with pre-existing medical diabetes) are at risk for severe disease.
Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading.
Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover. Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers. Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.
Reduce the risk of catching and mitigating the effects of this (or any other) viral infection:
Minimise social contact, especially touching other people’s hands and faces.
Minimize touching objects handled by other people in public places, e.g. handrails, door handles, money (oh yes!), shop trolleys/baskets, lift buttons (use your elbows or other object if possible), etc.
Avoid touching own face, especially mouth, nose, and eyes which are places of entry for the virus.
Wash hands with soap and hot water thoroughly and frequently, especially before leaving home and immediately after coming back. Do the same when visiting other people’s homes as well. Put a reminder on your entrance/exit door!
Consume hot drinks frequently. Green/black tea with a trace of salt and a squirt of lemon juice. Drink it as warm as you can tolerate to wash down any infection lodged in your throat. In between, sipping (warm) water at regular short intervals will help keep the throat clear. Viruses ending up in your stomach are rendered harmless by the digestive acids.
Once or twice a day (preferably morning and night), breathe in vapour from a mug or bowl of hot water through your nose for 5-10 minutes to clear nasal passages. High temperature and humidity have been known to suppress/deactivate a similar coronavirus which caused SARS in 2003.
If you develop any early symptoms (new continuous cough, high temperature) then self-isolate immediately for 7 days. Other people living with you should also self-isolate for 14 days, as well as those you have been in close contact with few days prior to your onset of symptoms. It is advisable to repeat steps 5 and 6 more frequently to help with relief of symptoms. Contact neighbours, friends, and family to alert them to your situation and request any help with supplies with due safeguards in place to protect themselves.
If symptoms don’t improve after 7 days or deteriorate significantly or you cannot cope then log on to 111.nhs.uk or call NHS-Direct on 111 for help. Do not go to pharmacy, doctor, or hospital.
Keep safe, and look after your family, friends, and neighbours.
By Michelle Bone