COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called Coronavirus which was first identified in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. A number of cases have since been confirmed in European countries, including the UK.
Who is the most at risk?
People who are deemed the most at risk of contracting COVID-19 include:
- The elderly
- Those with a compromised (weakened) immune system
- Those who have recently travelled to heavily infected areas, such as China, Italy, Iran, South Korea and France.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to most other strains of Flu, and people who have the infection may experience:
- Shortness of breath
- High temperature
- Aches and pains
It's important to note that symptoms may appear up to 2 weeks (14 days) AFTER initial infection, by which time the infected may have already spread the virus without realising.
What can I do to protect myself?
There are a number of things which individuals can do to help prevent themselves from contracting COVID-19, as well as preventing it from spreading. Some things that you can do include:
- Wash your hands frequently with warm water and antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds
- Make sure you catch sneezes and coughs in tissues and bin them immediately.
- Clean shared spaces regularly (e.g. work spaces). It is also a good idea to disinfect items which are touched by many people, e.g. light switches and door handles.
- Maintain social distancing (1-3 meters) from people who are coughing or sneezing
What should I do if I think I have Coronavirus?
If you think you may have Coronavirus or have recently been in contact with somebody does, the advice given by the NHS is to:
- DO NOT attend you GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, as this could spread the infection further
- Stay at home (self-isolate) and avoid close contact with other people
- Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next (link below)