Your Covid Questions, Answered: What Families and Carers Need to Know
(updated on November, 8)
Coronavirus has taken over the news and our lives. We are currently facing a pandemic of unforeseen scale spreading across the whole world. As of Sunday, 8 November 2020, there are 1.19 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK, among them 49,044 deaths. For now, everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. Here, experts weigh in on the most frequently asked coronavirus questions and what you can do to best protect yourself and your loved ones.
+ + + For anyone with immediate concerns: The NHS has created an online 111 service to deliver quick answers based on individual cases. If this doesn’t answer you concerns, they recommend getting further help by calling 111. For general information on COVID-19 visit the NHS website. + + +
What is coronavirus & COVID-19?
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and Public Health England (PHE) have defined COVID-19 as a novel strain of the coronavirus common across the world.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses common to many species of animals, such as camels, cattle, cats and bats. They can be spread from animals to humans. Coronaviruses cause illness in humans ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory (lung) diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The current coronavirus—also referred to as a novel (new) coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2—was first detected in 2019, in Wuhan City in the Hubei Province of China. It has since been detected in travelers, as well as confirmed in people without known exposure to the region or other known patients. The name of the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2 is called COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”
How is coronavirus transmitted?
Human coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person through:
- respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze.
- close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
- touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding: According to the DHSC, pregnant women do not appear more likely to be seriously affected. Peer-reviewed research on infants born to mothers with COVID-19 showed that none of the children tested positive for the virus. Additionally, the virus was not detected in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms associated with coronavirus include:
- high temperature
- new, continuous cough
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- shortness of breath (in severe cases)
What are the symptoms in children specifically?
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, “children can be infected and can have a severe illness but based on current data overall illness seems rarer in people under 20 years of age.”
Limited reports of children with COVID-19 have described mild, cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose and cough. A couple of children exhibited gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting and diarrhea). Furthermore, children tend to have skin changes or rashes. Although severe complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) have been reported, they appear to be uncommon.
Who is most at risk?
The risks are highest in the following communities:
- People who are close contacts of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 are at elevated risk.
- People aged 70 and over.
- Healthcare workers caring for patients with COVID-19 are at elevated risk of exposure.
- The immunocompromised—like people in retirement homes, the elderly, cancer, diabetes, HIV or COPD/asthma patients, etc.—have a higher risk.
- Travellers returning from affected international locations where community spread has occurred.
- Pregnant women experience immunologic and physiologic changes which might make them more susceptible to viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.
What precautions should I take?
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said, “We all have a role to play in stopping this disease and that’s what this expanded campaign is all about—making sure the public knows exactly what they should be doing to keep themselves and others safe. Washing hands regularly is the single most important thing that an individual can do.”
The best approach is to wash hands with soap or sanitizer for 20 seconds especially,
- when you get to work or arrive home,
- after you blow your nose, and
- cough or sneeze before you eat or handle food.
Furthermore, everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. You should only leave the house for 1 of 4 reasons:
- shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home
What should I do if I think my child or I have been exposed to coronavirus?
According to the NHS, “if you have symptoms and believe to have been exposed to the virus, it is essential that you isolate yourself and stay indoors. If you’re on public transport, go home by the most direct route. Stay at least 2 metres away from people if you can. If you’re away from home: Find a room where you can close the door and avoid touching people, surfaces and objects. Wait by yourself until you have spoken to 111.”
The NHS has also created an online 111 service to deliver quick answers based on individual cases.
Is there a vaccine?
According NHS: “There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus (COVID-19). The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine. Simple hygiene measures like washing your hands with soap and water often, and avoiding people who are unwell, can help stop viruses like coronavirus spreading.”
Note: You will find further helpful information in our “How to Handle Covid” guide.
Please note: The article above was prepared to the best of the author’s ability based on available information. However, it is not updated on a daily basis and may not apply to your specific situation.
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