The 'coronavirus' (also termed COVID-19 and 2019-nCov) has dominated the media all over the world in the past few weeks. With nine cases now confirmed in the UK, we understand that people may be worried, particularly those with compromised immune systems.
What is Coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Novel coronavirus is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China.
Keep in mind that because this is a new virus, what is known about the virus now might change in the future.
Who is at Risk of Becoming Ill?
It is important to note that the Government has stated that the risk to individuals remains low. However, older people, and people with long term medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) advises people of all ages to take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.
Preventing spread of infection
Guidance issued on 6 February 2020 by Public Health England states that there are general principles you can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
- wash your hands often - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. This is particularly important after taking public transport
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid close contact with people who are sick
- if you feel unwell, stay at home, do not attend work or school
- cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it
- clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment
- if you are worried about your symptoms, please call NHS 111. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment
- see further information and the Public Health England Blog
Public Health England states there is currently no vaccine to prevent this coronavirus acute respiratory disease. and that the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
Myths Surrounding Coronavirus
Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus? Can spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill the new coronavirus? Can pets at home spread the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV)? WHO has a myth busting page with these and more questions about the virus.