Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, which cause common colds to more severe illnesses, including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
COVID-19 is a new disease which can damage the lungs and respiratory system. This is caused by a Coronavirus.
Coronaviruses are zoonotic, which means they can spread between animals and humans. It first appeared in humans in Wuhan, China, in November 2019 and has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.
COVID-19 is incredibly contagious and has spread fast around the world since it first emerged.
Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19
The most common symptoms are a fever, cough, shortness of breath and in more severe cases breathing difficulties. In more severe cases the virus can cause pneumonia. Some patients have also experienced tiredness/ lethargy, aches and pains and nasal congestion although some people don’t experience any symptoms at all yet still test positive for the virus.
The NHS advises:
- Stay at home if you have a new, persistent cough (That means coughing a lot for over an hour or three or more cough episodes within 24 hours.)
- A high temperature— that means you’re feeling hot (you don’t have to measure the temperature).
Get medical attention right away if you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19. Emergency signs include:
- Respiratory problems or breathing difficulties
- Persistent pain or chest pressure
- Bluish lips or face
How It Spreads
To avoid the Coronavirus infection, the first step is to know how it spreads.
- The virus is expected to spread primarily through individuals and people in close contact (about 6 feet) with each other through respiratory droplets formed by the cough or sneeze of an infected person.
- Such droplets that land in the mouths or nose of people nearby or potentially inhaled into the lungs.
How to prevent the spread
Normal precautions for preventing the spread of infections include daily washing of hands and covering the mouth and nose. It is also recommended to avoid direct contact with people who have respiratory problems such as coughing and sneezing.
Tips to follow
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water.
- Always wash your hands when you come back home with a good hand wash or soap for at least 20 seconds.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (not your face) when you cough or sneeze and then wash your hands immediately. Discard the tissue used immediately.
- Avoid direct contact with people with coronavirus symptoms.
- You should avoid gatherings of two or more people unless they are in your household
Take action to protect others if you are showing symptoms
- Wear a face mask only if you are ill with symptoms of coronavirus. You should wear a face mask before visiting a healthcare facility (GP surgery, or Hospital) where you are with other people (i.e. sharing a room or vehicle). Do what you can to cover your cough and sneeze.
- You don’t need to wear a face mask if you are not sick, and you have no signs and symptoms.
- You can also tell the other people if someone wants to visit you at the home that you’re sick, so that they can take the precautionary measures.
- Clean and regularly disinfect surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, counter tops, handles, desks, computers, keys, toilets and sinks.
Avoiding exposure to this infection is the safest way to prevent illness. There is currently no vaccine, scientists around the world are working on one but we do not know when it will be available. Recovery depends on the affected person’s immune system’s ability.