Coronavirus – Frequently Asked Questions
Coronavirus news and headlines have likely saturated your feeds and flooded your social media with updates and stories and quite possibly some misinformation. So we have put together a short guide to help you stay safe and informed.
What is coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a common virus and is mostly not dangerous. It can cause infections in the upper respiratory system in the throat, nose and sinuses. However, some strains can be serious and this recent outbreak in China identified a new strain called 2019-nCoV or “2019 Novel Coronavirus”. This strain is now commonly called COVID-19.
How is coronavirus spread?
Coronavirus is spread through close contact with an infected person. If the individual sneezes or coughs onto a surface, and you touch it and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, or eat something with your hands, you become at risk of infection. You can also become infected by breathing in droplets from an infected person, which is why mask-wearing is so important. It seems that the latter causes a higher viral load and more serious symptoms, which is why avoiding socialising with people outside of your household has become such a priority in public health strategy.
How do I avoid catching COVID-19?
The best way to avoid catching COVID-19 is to avoid social contact with people outside of your household, keep your distance from others, wear a mask and keep your hands clean and sanitised. Avoid touching your face and eyes. You should also take care of yourself through good nutrition, exercise, appropriate supplements and avoiding stress.
What are the symptoms?
Differentiating COVID-19 symptoms from symptoms of the common cold and ‘flu can sometimes be difficult but it also has certain key characteristics. It causes upper respiratory tract infection symptoms such as a dry cough, fever, sore throat and sometimes in children, ear infections and conjunctivitis. A sudden inability to smell and/or taste has been reported by a large percentage of patients diagnosed with COVID-19. Additional symptoms include gastric symptoms such as diarrhoea, headaches, fatigue and joint pain. King’s College have listed 6 different presentations of COVID-19 which confirmed our own internal clinical audit.
What should I do if I have these symptoms?
If you are showing symptoms:
- Stay indoors
- Book a telephone consultation with one of our GPs. If you are asthmatic, have any respiratory condition or underlying conditions such as diabetes, we strongly recommend speaking to a doctor right away.
- Self isolate in a different room from other members of your family.
- You should get tested as soon as possible.
- You should treat your symptoms like you would with other viral illnesses.
There is no treatment for losing your taste and smell but you can train it back faster using smell-training techniques.
Here are a few over-the-counter medications that can help reduce your COVID-19 symptoms but make sure you are not allergic before taking any and be careful about mixing too many medications. If you are unsure about how to manage your symptoms, schedule a telephone consultation with one of our GPs who would be happy to help.
Pain management: COVID-19 can cause headaches and joint pain. For this, you can take aspirin or Ibuprofen, which act to reduce inflammation and therefore pains such as joint pain, sore throat and can help reduce fever.
Reduce your fever: COVID-19 can cause a fever and you might intermittently experience both sweats and chills. Make sure you rest and drink plenty of fluids. Taking paracetamol can also help.
Reduce your cough: cough medicine for dry cough can help reduce your cough. COVID-19 can trigger asthma and respiratory conditions so speak to a doctor as soon as possible who will explain what you need to do to stay safe and what to look out for.
Take your vitamins: take daily vitamin C and zinc, high concentration probiotics and vitamin D if you are deficient. You should be doing this daily anyway to help prevent illness and to give your immune system the best possible chance.
When should I call an ambulance / go to hospital?
There are several red flags to look out for.
Please do not ignore red flags and call 999 immediately. These include:
- Breathlessness – are you finding it hard to finish a sentence at rest?
- Breathing hard and fast
- Blue lips
- Audible wheezing
- Being too ill to do usual daily activities
- Significant change for the worse
Can I get tested?
Yes, this is available at our clinic. You can book a home-testing kit online or by calling us. You can be seen at the clinic for a test if you have no symptoms. You can also book a test with the NHS.
How dangerous is coronavirus?
COVID-19 mainly seriously affects the elderly or those with low immunity and underlying diseases. Evidence suggests that respiratory fitness is also a significant factor. However, the key issue is avoiding a high viral load and this can be achieved by avoiding prolonged contact with other people outside of your household. You should also ensure you are looking after yourself the best you can to boost your immunity.
Should I wear a face mask?
Wearing a mask is now a legal requirement in public enclosed spaces. A face mask helps protect others and to a degree, you too. Choose a mask with good filtration and several layers.
How do I know if I am infected if I don’t have symptoms?
The only way to know if you have COVID-19 is with a PCR swab test. If someone contacts you to say they tested positive and you had recent contact with them, you should have a test right away. Similarly, if you had recent contact with someone and they since became unwell, you should test right away, even if you feel healthy.
If more than one of my household is unwell, why do we need to isolate in different rooms?
Sitting in the same room with other infected people greatly increases the viral load in each person’s system, which means you will all get more ill. It is important to try to stay apart from other people in your household when you are unwell.
Is it possible for one household member to test positive and another negative?
Yes, this can happen. The virus RNA is detectable after a certain time and it can depend on multiple factors including timing, viral load and so on. However, if someone in your household tests positive, you should all self-isolate for ten days and not leave your house.
I’ve developed COVID-19 symptoms but I tested negative – why is this?
If your symptoms correlate strongly with COVID-19, for example, losing your sense of taste and smell suddenly, it is likely to do with the timing of your test. You should test as soon as possible after developing symptoms. If your symptoms could be due to other viruses, such as cold or ‘flu, it is possible simply that you are suffering from a different illness.