GP’s coronavirus advice answers questions on how to stay safe during outbreak
Coronavirus is blighting the country with the UK’s death toll leaping to 281 and 37 people aged between 18 and 102 dying in just 24 hours.
A further 600 COVID-19 victims were identified, bringing the total number of positive tests to 5,683.
Now a GP has shared her practical advice on what to do to protect yourself and how you will know if you've got virus, reports Mirror Online.
NHS GP Dr Nisa Aslam has based her answers on information from the NHS and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
With so much uncertainty around the bug this is your guide to everything from being able tell if you've got the virus to whether wearing a mask makes a difference.
Q: Do I need to wear a mask?
A: In general, face masks are not recommended by Public Health England as they don’t provide great protection from catching the virus.
However, if you’re already displaying symptoms then a mask could help prevent you spreading the virus if you leave your home for any emergency.
Q: I feel ill… how can I tell if it’s the coronavirus?
The two main symptoms to worry about are:
Fever – A high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back. Or if you have a thermometer, anything over 37.8C.* Coughing – A new, continuous cough. This means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing fits in 24 hours.
These symptoms tend to be mild initially and begin around five days after catching the virus, though it could be up to 14 days after.
Q: What about other symptoms such as headaches or an upset tummy?
A: New reports from China and Italy have found that some confirmed Covid-19 sufferers reported the following early symptoms too:
* Trouble breathing.* Extreme tiredness.* Persistent pain or pressure in the chest.* Sore throat.* Upset stomach.* Runny nose.* Headaches.* Whole-body aches.* Loss of appetite, taste or smell.
Q: Should I take vitamin C to help my body fight off the virus?
A: Vitamin C does help support our immune system and one study found it helped chick embryos resist coronavirus infections.
Other clinical trials have shown that taking vitamin C supplements may lower the risk of developing pneumonia. More research is needed before we can confidently claim that it can help the body fight Covid-19, but taking it certainly won’t do any harm.
Q: How can I keep my child’s temperature down safely if they have a fever?
A: Again, avoid ibuprofen, which may make symptoms worse – particularly in children. Give them regular liquid paracetamol; the correct dose for their age is on the bottle.
Keep them well hydrated and make sure they are going to the toilet as often as usual.
Keep clothing light, but don’t remove their clothes or use cold baths or compresses.
The good news is, all the signs so far are that this coronavirus causes a far less serious illness in children.
Q: I’m self-treating at home and can’t face eating… is it OK not to?
A: The ideal diet when you’re unwell is a varied one, packed with fresh fruit and veg to provide plenty of vitamins and minerals to help you fight off the illness. But when you have a fever or are in pain it can put you off food, so the main thing here is to make sure you still drink plenty.
Then, when you feel up to it, start with a bland diet of simple foods such as plain toast and pasta.
Q: Everyone keeps talking about ‘at-risk’ groups and underlying conditions but what does this really mean?
A: Around one out of every six people who gets Covid-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing.
These are most likely to be those over 70 and those with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, lung conditions, heart problems or diabetes.
Being pregnant, undergoing treatment for cancer or taking immuno-suppressant drugs (such as steroids) is also thought to put you at higher risk of more serious complications.
Q: Should I see my GP?
A: Don’t visit your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital if your symptoms are mild to moderate and you’re coping well at home. Most people, about 80%, recover from the disease without needing special treatment.
Q: When should I call 111?
A: You should only call the NHS 111 helpline, which is currently swamped with calls, if you feel your symptoms are worsening or if they don’t get better after seven days.
Q:Can I take ibuprofen to ease my symptoms?
No. An article published in the British Medical Journal last week suggested that ibuprofen may prolong or worsen the effects of a Covid-19 infection, so it’s sensible to avoid it.
Q: Instead take two 500mg paracetamol tablets, every four to six hours, rest in bed and drink plenty of fluids. At what point should I panic and go to hospital?
A: Please don’t panic! If you’re having continuous chest tightness, feel persistent shortness of breath, have nostril flaring when breathing or are needing to use your chest muscles extra hard in order to breathe, you must either ring NHS 111 or, in an emergency only, call 999.
Q: Do I need to get tested if I suspect coronavirus?
A: No. You will currently be tested only if your symptoms are severe enough that you end up in hospital.
Q: Who should I tell if I think I’m infected?
A: Let any family, friends and work colleagues you’ve been in contact with over the past 14 days know.
You don’t need to tell your GP or 111.
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Q: How do I self-isolate?
If you have symptoms, current guidelines say you must go into self-isolation for seven days. Put simply, this means:
* Stay at home.* Don’t go to work, school or any other public areas.* Don’t use public transport or taxis.* Get friends and family to deliver food, medicines etc rather than going to the shops yourself. Don’t let people visit your home.
Q: Do the rest of my family need to self-isolate?
A: Yes. If you live with others, they should stay at home for at least 14 days to stop the virus spreading, even if they don’t have any symptoms.
After 14 days, anyone you live with who has no symptoms can return to their normal routine.
Q: I have symptoms but I live with an at-risk person – what should I do?
A: If you live with someone who is over 70, has a long-term condition, a weakened immune system or is pregnant, you should try to find somewhere else for them to stay.
If you have to stay at home together, keep away from each other as much as possible.
Q: What’s the best way to avoid passing it on to others in my house?
A: You should further self-isolate while at home – which means avoiding close contact with the other people in your household as much as possible.
Stay in another room and wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, particularly if you have been coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.
Clean surfaces that get touched often, such as door handles, kettles and light switches, several times a day, ideally with diluted bleach or a spray of at least 70% alcohol.
Q: When will I stop being contagious?
A: Once your fever is gone, after seven days you should no longer be infectious and can return to your normal routine (even if you still have a cough).
But if you still have a fever, remain cautious and avoid contact with others until your temperature returns to normal.
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