Protecting Yourself From Coronavirus (COVID-19)

19.03.2020

Information correct as of 18th March 2020

Amidst the recent outbreak of COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to protect your health for the safety of you and others. As there is no current vaccine to prevent it, you need to take vital steps to reduce being exposed to the virus and minimise your risk of contracting the illness.

Important note: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 or develop a fever or other symptoms, such as a cough or shortness of breath, then you must self-isolate in your home avoiding all human contact. If your symptoms get worse or are no better after 7 days, or if you have a serious underlying health condition, then seek medical advice by calling 111. Do not go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital. Do not visit any LycaHealth clinic.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a strain of Coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It has since spread to numerous countries across the world, and has been officially declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation. The exact mortality rate is difficult to calculate, but from what we know so far, the risks increase with age and those with underlying health conditions. Children, on the other hand, are less likely to get severely ill from the virus, but they can still carry it and pass it to others.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of COVID-19 appear within two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, and are similar to those of the flu. The most common symptoms are a continuous dry cough, shortness of breath and/or a fever. Some people may also develop more serious symptoms, like severe difficulty breathing and pneumonia.

How does it spread?

The coronavirus is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, such as when a person coughs or sneezes. It can travel up to six feet, but luckily it isn’t believed to be an airborne virus that can circulate in the air. Close contact with an infected individual, such as shaking hands, touching a door handle or other surfaces, and then touching your face can transmit the virus.

How to Protect Yourself from COVID-19

You can reduce the risk of catching Coronavirus by maintaining good hygiene and taking sensible measures suggested by health officials. Practice the following:

Wash your hands regularly

Make sure you wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 15-20 seconds, especially before eating and drinking, and after coughing, sneezing and going to the toilet. If soap and water is not available, use a hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.

Avoid touching your face

From what we understand so far, the virus is transmitted when someone who has come into contact with the virus touches their nose, mouth or eyes with unwashed hands. To minimise your risk of catching the illness, avoid all direct contact with your face.

Practice social distancing

As much as we want to visit our friends and family, it’s important that we practice social distancing to control and slow down the spread of the contagious disease – remember this is only temporary. Social distancing involves minimising social contact, not only in public spaces like public transport and shopping centres, but even small social gatherings. Make use of social media, FaceTime and Skype for contact with loved ones – but stay at home. This is especially important for those with high-risk individuals within their family.

Where this is not possible, for example, those who care for others, make sure you are taking serious precautions with your hygiene. Wear a mask if you are visiting or looking after vulnerable people (in case you have the virus and are not yet showing symptoms), wash your hands regularly, and keep a good distance away at all times.

Work from home

This may not be feasible for all of us, but for people who are able to work from home – please do. You will significantly reduce the risk of infection by reducing the rate of contact with other people, which is inevitable in a common workplace. You can organise meetings via video call and communicate through other forms of messaging apps.

If you or anyone in your household has developed even mild symptoms of Coronavirus, such as a cough and/or high temperature – then you must stay away from the workplace and self-isolate in your home.

Clean and disinfect surfaces

Use disinfectant to clean frequently touched surfaces, such as tablets, countertops, taps, light switches, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets and tables. Whether this is within a workplace setting, or just in your own home, it is important that you are constantly keeping on top of the cleaning of surfaces to avoid yourself and others contracting the virus.

Clean your phone

Whilst many of us are frequent users of our mobile phones, cleaning our hands frequently isn’t enough, you should also make sure your phone is clean too. A study has found that COVID-19 can last on contaminated plastic and stainless surfaces for up to three days – this includes your mobile phone.

Please be aware that there are some chemicals you should not use to clean your phone as it can be harmful to the screen, such as bleach. Apple recently released a statement stating you can clean your phone with disinfectant wipes that contain 70% or more isopropyl alcohol, also known as rubbing alcohol.

Don’t panic

Alongside all these instructions, remember to not panic. Instead, focus your energy on doing everything possible to combat the virus, and supporting the more vulnerable members of society where we can.

If you or one of your family members develops symptoms

Visit the NHS Coronavirus page or GOV.UK for the most up to date information. If you or your family have symptoms of a cough, shortness of breath or fever please stay indoors, avoid all contact with others and follow the official guidance from the NHS. Please do not attend a LycaHealth clinic and contact us if you have any concerns before your GP appointment with us.

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