Coronavirus: UK advice

A respiratory infection originating in China and known as the “new coronavirus” is now spreading faster outside the country than inside. More than 50 countries have been affected, including the UK.

With further infections now likely, here are five graphics and the latest practical advice on what to do – based on information from the World Health Organization, Public Health England and the UK National Health Service (NHS).

How do I avoid getting it?

It is not yet known exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person. However, similar viruses are spread via respiratory droplets, such as those produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Therefore, there are things you can do to minimise your risk of catching it.
What should I do to prevent catching and spreading the virus? NHS advice: wash hands frequently with soap and water or sanitiser gel; catch coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues; throw away used tissues (then wash hands); if you don’t have a tissue, use your sleeve; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are unwell
The NHS advises you, among other things, to wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

You only need to stay away from public places if advised to by the NHS’s specialist 111 online coronavirus service or by a medical professional.

There is currently no evidence that you can catch coronavirus from parcels and letters or from food. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live for very long outside the body.
◾NHS advice
◾How to wash your hands thoroughly

Will I get it?

In the UK, the country’s chief medical officers have raised the public risk level from low to moderate. But, the NHS says, the risk to individuals remains low.

However, there are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.

Therefore, there is extra advice for UK travellers, including those who have returned from affected areas, including China, Italy and Iran.

But even if you do get it, you are likely to experience mild symptoms and recover.

Most cases are never counted
Scientists currently think the proportion of people dying from the disease is low (between 1% and 2%) and evidence suggests those who have died were elderly or had pre-existing conditions.

But with the virus in its early stages, and many milder cases not yet counted, the figures are still unreliable.
◾How close are we to a pandemic?
◾NHS advice for travellers
◾Government foreign travel advice

How do I know if I’ve got it?

The new coronavirus – known as Covid-19 – seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then, after a week, leads to shortness of breath.

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

The symptoms are similar to other viruses that are much more common, such as colds and flu.

Graphic showing the symptoms of coronavirus: Shortness of breath, headache, cough, muscle pain. Virus seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough and then after a week leads to shortness of breath and some patients needing hospital treatment

Presentational white space
In more severe cases of Covid-19, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.

Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) are more likely to become severely ill.
◾What are the symptoms?

What should I do if I think I’ve got it?

If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you are advised not to go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Instead, the NHS says you should contact its dedicated 111 online coronavirus service, operating in England, Scotland and parts of Wales, which can tell you if you need medical help and advise you what to do next.

You should contact the NHS 111 service if:
◾You think you might have the virus
◾You’ve been to Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, northern Italy, Iran, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand or Vietnam in the past 14 days
◾You’ve been in close contact with someone with coronavirus

As a result, you may be asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate). You may also be passed onto your local health protection team for testing.

Graphic explaining the advice for people who think they may have coronavirus: 1) Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. 2) Contact NHS 111. 3) You may be asked to self-isolate. 4) Your details may be passed to local health protection teams. 5) You may then be tested for the virus. 6) A doctor or nurse will give advice on what to do next.
In Northern Ireland, if you have visited countries considered to be at high risk, you are asked to self-isolate and call your GP, out-of-hours GP or emergency department.
◾NHS 111 online coronavirus service
◾Northern Ireland coronavirus advice

Will I be tested – and how?

You only need to be tested for coronavirus if you have been to certain affected areas within a certain time period or you have been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus.

But if health professionals think you could have coronavirus, you will be put in touch with your local health protection team and directed to a testing location.

Graphic showing what happens if you have to be tested. You will be told the right place to be tested by NHS 111. If you are told to go to a hospital you must follow signs to coronavirus isolation pod. Inside the pod call NHS 111. A nurse wearing protective clothing will appear. Swabs taken for testing. Self-isolate at home or elsewhere. If you have to go to a drive-through facility, you’ll be tested without leaving your car. Or NHS staff may visit your home
Here, health professionals will take some samples. This may include:
◾Mucus from your nose, throat or lungs
◾Blood
◾Poo (stool)

Coronavirus testing pod at The John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford

Coronavirus pod at The John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford

Samples will then be sent to specialist testing laboratories. Results may be available on the same working day.

While you await your test results, you may be asked to stay at home and follow advice for “self-isolation”.
◾Government information on diagnosis

What do I do if I have to ‘self-isolate’?

You may be asked to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have travelled to certain affected areas of the world, if you have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus or are awaiting test results.

Warning sign on coronavirusImage copyright Getty Images
This means you should:
◾Stay at home
◾Not go to work, school or public areas
◾Not use public transport like buses, trains, tubes or taxis
◾Avoid visitors to your home
◾Ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you – such as getting groceries, medication or other shopping

You should make sure any items delivered are left outside, or in the porch, or as appropriate for your home.

If you live with other people, you may have to take extra measures to reduce the chances of onward infection, such as staying in a separate room and regularly cleaning shared kitchens and bathrooms.

You may need to do this for up to 14 days to reduce the possible spread of infection.
◾Government advice on self-isolation
◾Will I get paid if I self-isolate?

If I test positive, what will happen then?

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus, but you may receive treatment to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

You’ll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you’ve fully recovered.

Coronavirus testing laboratory at Glasgow Royal InfirmaryImage copyright Getty Images
Work to develop a vaccine is under way and it is hoped there will be human trials before the end of the year. SOURCE : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51674696

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