This article about how to slow the spread of Coronavirus was published by the Great British Mag content team on 27 March, 2020
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially declared the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic, so we all need to do our part to slow its spread. Here’s what you need to know about symptoms, self-isolation and social distancing.
What are the real symptoms of Coronavirus?
As of 26 March, the WHO lists the most common symptoms of Coronavirus as high fever, fatigue, dry cough and shortness of breath. Some people will also experience aches and pains, runny nose or a sore throat. In recent weeks, those who tested positive for Coronavirus also reported a loss of smell and/or taste.
Symptoms often begin as mild and develop gradually. In the UK, the NHS (National Health Service) lists the primary symptoms to look out for as a high temperature (especially on your chest or back) and/or a continuous cough.
What to do if you have Coronavirus symptoms
If you develop a fever and/or a continuous cough, the NHS urges you to self-isolate and not leave your house for seven days from when your symptoms started. Even if your symptoms are mild and you don’t feel that sick, you should still follow this advice. Do not leave your home to go to the GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
If your symptoms get significantly worse while you are in isolation or your symptoms do not go away after seven days, contact NHS 111 online for advice. People without the internet should call NHS 111. If there is an emergency, call 999.
What to do if you live with someone with Coronavirus symptoms
People who share a home with someone who has Coronavirus symptoms should self-isolate at home for 14 days. You should not allow other people into your home during this period. The 14-day period begins from the day the first person in the home started showing symptoms.
If someone in your home starts showing symptoms, you might think it’s best to leave your home. This is not true, as there is a higher chance you are infected already. If you stay in your home for 14 days, you reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others outside your family.
The only exception to this rule is if someone in your household is elderly or has an underlying health condition that puts them at higher risk of getting the infection. If you can, move them out of your home during the period of isolation and have them stay with a relative or friend whose household has not shown any symptoms. If high-risk individuals cannot leave the home, then they need to stay away from other members of the household as much as possible.
People who begin to show symptoms during their 14-day isolation period need to self-isolate for an additional seven days from when the symptoms first appeared.
How to self-isolate properly
Most importantly, STAY HOME. Do not go to work, school, public areas or use public transportation. Ask a friend or relative to pick up groceries, medication and other essentials and drop them off at your home. You can also order these items online and have them delivered. Be sure that whoever is dropping off any deliveries leaves them outside your door and does not come into your home.
Try to keep a distance of two metres (six feet) between yourself and others in your home. Disinfect shared spaces – like a kitchen or bathroom – after every use. Everyone should regularly wash their hands with soap for 20 seconds, especially before and after eating, after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or after using a shared space. If you do not have soap, use hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol.
Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, NOT your hands. Avoid touching your face (mouth, nose, eyes) at all times, but especially if your hands are not clean.
Do not allow visitors into your home, unless you or a family member receives essential care in your home. These workers will receive gloves and face masks to ensure their safety while in your home. The NHS does not recommend that people who are not healthcare workers or in a clinical setting use face masks.
How to observe social distancing properly
As of 23 March 2020, the UK Government has mandated that people stay at home and only venture outside only when absolutely necessary for an initial three-weeks. The Government has said people should only go for one hour per day and the police have been given powers to fine people if they ignore the new rules.
Even if you haven’t shown symptoms of Coronavirus and don’t live with someone who has shown symptoms of Coronavirus, you still need to practice social distancing, because reducing social interaction between people will slow the spread of the virus.
Social distancing rules include:
- Stay home unless you must leave for an essential reason, such as going to the supermarket or collecting medicine
- Keep a distance of two metres (six feet) between yourself and others
- Wash your hands immediately after returning home and more frequently throughout the day, for a minimum of 20 seconds
- If possible work from home and avoid public transportation and public gatherings
- Cover your mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze
- If you do not have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, NOT your hands.
- If you share a kitchen or bathroom with other students, disinfect these spaces after you use them.
How to get treatment for Coronavirus
If you are experiencing symptoms, immediately go into self-isolation for seven days. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
You can use the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service to get advice on treatment. You will be asked to fill out a questionnaire about your age, symptoms and any underlying health conditions. To begin the survey, you must enter your postcode. This way the NHS can direct you to nearby health services if necessary. Follow the directions provided at the end of the survey. If you do not have internet access, call the NHS at 111.
If it is recommended that you go into self-isolation, it is most important that you rest, stay hydrated and do not go outside. While there is currently no antiviral treatment for Coronavirus, you can take pain relievers or cough syrup to try and relieve specific symptoms. DO NOT take pain relievers that are classed as anti-inflammatories, including ibuprofen, as there is some proof that they could aggravate the infection.
The NHS 111 service can also provide you with an online isolation note that gets turned into your employer.
If you need to seek treatment in a hospital, NHS 111 will tell you so and provide directions on how to proceed.
How to look after your mental health
Taking care of your body is important during this time, but you also need to take care mentally and emotionally. You might be experiencing high levels of anxiety or feeling extra lonely because of self-isolation or social distancing.
Here are some things you can do to stay mentally healthy:
- Spend time doing things you enjoy
- Eat a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh foods. Feeling physically healthy will keep your mind sharp
- Exercise! If you can’t go outside to walk or jog, start a routine at home. There are plenty of free workout tutorials online that don’t involve equipment
- Keep in contact with friends and family using technology. With everyone stuck at home, maybe now is the perfect time to have a family reunion over Zoom
- Don’t overwhelm yourself with news about the Coronavirus. Check RELIABLE news sources only once or twice a day for updates
- Focus only on what you can control. Make a routine for yourself at home so you can feel productive and relaxed.
Can international students receive free NHS treatment if they contract Coronavirus?
If you have paid the immigration health surcharge and you have a valid student visa you are entitled to free NHS treatment. If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), you can use it to receive free NHS treatment, at least until 31 December 2020.
Regulations have also been passed by the UK Government that enables everyone to get tested and treated for Coronavirus free of charge regardless of their visa status.
This new regulation applies to the diagnosis of the condition and subsequent treatment, even if the final diagnosis is negative.