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General Health

Coronavirus: The most common symptoms and 10 top tips

Mike Forelio
5 - 8 min.

Check out DoktorABC’s top ten tips on the current coronavirus situation

Updated 12 March 2020

As of 11.3.2020, the WHO has declared the coronavirus as a pandemic (as opposed to an epidemic). We updated our article accordingly. 

Coronavirus is still in the news every day and politicians and health organisations are working round the clock to find a solution to the pandemic. There are currently compulsory quarantine measures for millions of people, restrictions on travel, and plans for special treatment centers. With all the hype and confusion, it’s not surprising that there are a lot of internet rumours, misinformation and conspiracy theories about coronavirus. We’ll take a closer look at the known medical facts and try to put things in a healthier perspective! We’ve also checked out the current official advice on the COVID-19 situation to bring you 10 top coronavirus tips.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is simply an infectious disease that is closely related to the SARS virus and is spread in much the same way as flu. According to the NHS and WHO, the majority of people who get coronavirus will experience mild flu-like symptoms before making a full recovery. A minority of sufferers will experience more severe symptoms, and some of these may require hospital treatment. Unfortunately, COVID -19 is proving fatal for a small number of patients. 

Global figures for coronavirus fatalities are being continually gathered and updated, but at the time of writing, there are 273 known cases of COVID-19 in the UK. 18 people have made full recoveries and just 3 people have died of the illness. All the evidence seems to suggest that the people who are most at risk of death from COVID -19, are already in poor health, are very old, or do not have access to effective healthcare. 

What are the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID -19)?

According to the NHS website, If you do get coronavirus, the chances are that you will experience nothing worse than an uncomfortable couple of weeks of feeling under the weather, possibly with a high temperature, a dry cough, tiredness, and generally feeling like you have a bad cold or flu. Some sufferers will not have any symptoms at all, but will remain infectious. 

In more severe cases, symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, diarrhoea and coughing up blood. In extreme cases (fortunately very rare)  symptoms may progress to include pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis, septic shock, kidney failure, and death. 

If you’re generally healthy, catching the coronavirus will probably be no more than an inconvenience (especially with the required self-isolation). But it’s foolish to take the chance of getting infected in the first place, particularly when there is a clear risk of transmitting the disease to a more vulnerable person. The good news is that there are plenty of simple and effective precautions for preventing infection!

Coronavirus top 10 tips

Ten top tips on the coronavirus situation

The COVID-19 virus is spread from person to person via droplets of mucus or saliva from the nose or mouth. When an infected person coughs, sneezes, laughs, talks, or breathes, there is a chance that they are expelling the virus from their body in a contagious form. If any particles containing the virus enter your nose or mouth, you are at direct risk of infection. There is no evidence that coronavirus can be absorbed through your skin. 

Avoiding COVID-19 is a simple case of not allowing any infected droplets, or material containing the virus to enter your nose or mouth. But in today’s crowded cities, busy public transport systems and open plan offices, this can present a challenge. We’ve checked out the latest advice from the NHS, World Health Organisation and the British Medical Journal and presented it in 10 easy to read tips:

  1. If you suffer from diabetes, cardiac disease, obesity, poor immune function, or lung disease, the possible consequences of coronavirus may be more serious for you. Take extra precautions to avoid infection and seek medical advice if you have specific concerns. 
  2. If someone is coughing or sneezing, or looks unwell, keep a minimum distance of three meters from them. Even a violent sneeze will not expel droplets containing the virus more than three meters; they will simply fall to the floor. According to the WHO, If you spend less than 15 minutes with an infected person, your risk of infection is substantially reduced.
  3. Where possible, avoid touching surfaces like lift buttons, door handles and light switches with your bare hands. Regularly wash your hands, rubbing thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with plenty of soap and water. Dry them afterwards with your own towel or sterile paper towels. You can also use alcohol based (over 70%) hand sanitiser.
  4. Don’t touch your face, rub your eyes, or put your fingers in your mouth unnecessarily and consider avoiding handshakes, hugs and kisses for the time being. Use your common sense and don’t drink from the same bottles or cups as other people, or share cigarettes. 
  5. Avoid public places and events that bring you into close contact with lots of people. Avoid unnecessary travel, particularly to foreign countries. If it’s a practical option, ask to work at home instead of going into work.
  6. Do the right thing: if you think that you may have been exposed to COVID -19, self-quarantine and don’t put other people at risk!
  7. The virus can remain on clothing for 6 - 12 hours. If you think you’ve been exposed to the virus, wash your clothes as soon as possible. Ordinary washing powder on a regular cycle will kill the coronavirus.
  8. If you need to cough or sneeze, do it into a tissue and immediately throw the tissue into a rubbish bin. If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow - not your hands.
  9. Consider drinking hot drinks instead of cold drinks, boiling water is more likely to kill the virus. 
  10. Only eat out if you’re confident that everybody handling your food and drink is observing proper food hygiene and taking full precautions against coronavirus.

How serious is the coronavirus?

Coronavirus is causing a lot of worry and there is some talk of a global pandemic, but (so far) the disease doesn’t appear to be much worse than the ordinary influenza outbreaks that hit Britain every winter. According to the British Medical Journal, there were a total of 3,454 ICU/HDU admissions of confirmed influenza in the UK from week 40 2017 to week 15 2018, these resulted in 372 deaths. 

Nothing is more important than protecting your health. We recommend that you stay up to date with official UK government announcements and take all the advised precautions against infection. Scientists in several countries are working hard to develop a vaccine against COVID -19 and some of the world’s finest minds are focused on dealing with the pandemic.  DoktorABC will also keep you posted with any developments, and our online GPs are always available to answer any questions about your existing treatments and health issues. 

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