There is so much information about Coronaviruses (COVID-19), and we have seen a lot of this shared on social media, some of it is not exactly true.
We have decided to put together the following FAQ guide regarding the current outbreak, this guide is based on government and NHS information.
Anyone that is concerned about having the coronavirus should call NHS 111 and avoid presenting at a healthcare setting unless it is an emergency. NHS 111 will undertake a clinical assessment and then offer advice and if necessary arrange for testing or treatment in the right place depending on whether they fit the case definition.
Is Coronaviruses the same as COVID-19 ?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses common across the world in animals and humans, certain types cause illnesses in people. For example, some coronaviruses cause the common cold; others cause diseases which are much more severe such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), both of which often lead to pneumonia. COVID-19 is the illness seen in people infected with a new strain of coronavirus not previously seen in humans.
What does COVID-19 mean ?
COVID-19 stands for Corona Virus Disease 2019. Scientists gave the strain an interim name of 2019-nCoV, accounting for the year of discovery, its status as a “novel” virus, and its family name (CoV).
When and where did COVID-19 start ?
On 31st December 2019, Chinese authorities notified the World Health Organisation (WHO) of an outbreak of pneumonia in Wuhan City, which was later classified as a new disease: COVID-19.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19 ?
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a cough, a high temperature and, in severe cases, shortness of breath.
How is the virus spread ?
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person. Like the common cold, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with an affected person via coughs and sneezes. A person can also be infected by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.
Does the NHS have enough equipment to deal with the outbreak, we hear that supply’s are running low ?
The UK maintains strategic stockpiles of the most important medicines and protective equipment for healthcare staff who may come into contact with patients with the virus. These stocks are being monitored daily, with additional stock being ordered where necessary.
Will this outbreak effect other NHS services ?
If the virus becomes widespread, some non-urgent NHS hospital care may be delayed to focus on treating those who are infected, while recently retired doctors and nurses may be called back to work.
What if I am off work due to the virus ?
The workplace’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply if someone has coronavirus. Employees should let their employer know as soon as possible if they’re not able to go to work.
The government has stated that if NHS 111 or a doctor advises an employee or worker to self-isolate, they should receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them. If the employer offers contractual sick pay, it’s good practice to pay this. Further information here.
Is there a vaccine or any treatment for the virus ?
Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.
Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. WHO is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.
Do antibiotics help stop or treat COVID-19 ?
No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a doctor to treat a bacterial infection.
Can you catch COVID-19 from animals ?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in animals. Occasionally, people get infected with these viruses which may then spread to other people. For example, SARS-CoV was associated with civet cats and MERS-CoV is transmitted by dromedary camels. Possible animal sources of COVID-19 have not yet been confirmed.
There is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as cats and dogs have been infected or could spread the virus that causes COVID-19.
Who is at a high risk of getting COVID-19 ?
While we are still learning about how COVID-19 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
Is COVID-19 the same as SARS ?
No. The virus that causes COVID-19 and the one that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are related to each other genetically, but they are different. SARS is more deadly but much less infectious than COVID-19. There have been no outbreaks of SARS anywhere in the world since 2003.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself ?
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. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so use masks wisely.
How do I avoid catching or spreading the virus ?
- 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 straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
What to do if you think you have symptoms or you might have been exposed to the virus when travelling
You can visit https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19 and follow the online assesement. Anyone that is concerned about having the coronavirus should call NHS 111 and avoid presenting at a healthcare setting unless it is an emergency.