Having spent the best part of 4 hours speaking to a number of different radio stations today, I am getting a real feel for the degree of confusion and anxiety that exists around coronavirus.
I’m sorry I can’t answer everyone’s questions, there are simply too many, but I thought it might be useful to try to answer some of the common questions that came up a number of times this morning. It is by no means a comprehensive list but here goes …..
What is the usual progression of symptoms?
Let me first reassure you, that although we hear a lot in the media about the need for intensive care beds to manage this pandemic, the vast majority of those affected (99%) will have a mild illness and some may have no symptoms at all.
The most common presentation would be a new cough, fever (temperature 37.8 degrees or higher) and sometimes shortness of breath. Some patients also report fatigue, sore throat, muscle pains and headaches.
These symptoms can appear anytime from 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. Most patients recover completely within 7 days although it has caused symptoms for longer in a minority.
If it is such a minor illness in the minority, why are we all having to practice social distancing and self-isolation if we are infected?
Even though it is a small minority who may need hospitalisation, if 1% of the population all needed hospital care and a significant number of them intensive care, at the same time, the health system simply wouldn’t cope.
The NHS would crumple, leaving, not just coronavirus patients, but all emergency patients without the medical treatment they need. It is vital that we all adhere to these measures to delay the spread of the disease and therefore spread the pressure on the NHS.
The Prime Minister said that children of “key workers” will still be able to go to school. What are “key workers”?
We are still waiting for clarification on this. The Prime Minister mentioned health and social care workers, the police and delivery staff. I think that will include the frontline staff in those professions and the support staff who make it possible for them to perform their duties.
Are animals at risk?
No. We think the virus originated from animals, but we don’t think there is any risk of spread back to our pets.
Are kids allowed to play outside?
At this stage, if you are self-isolating, you and your household contacts MUST stay indoors, but if you are practicing social distancing, it is fine for children and adults to go outside as long as they maintain a distance from anyone around them.
Can we get Coronavirus from post or deliveries?
We are still learning about this virus. We know that it can exist outside the human body and does so for longer on hard surfaces (wood, metal, cardboard), than on soft surfaces like clothing.
Scientists have found that it survives better on plastic and stainless steel than it does on copper and cardboard. It is thought to live around three days on metal surfaces although the amount of virus detected at 72 hours is significantly decreased.
However, that does mean that it is possible to contract the virus from your parcels and post. My advice is to open our post all at once, discard the envelopes and packaging and wash your hands thoroughly.
Can I ask for my repeat prescription medicine early?
We are asking people NOT to do this. We know everyone is worried, but we have been reassured that the supply of medicines will be fine people don’t stockpile. If people have more than they need stored at home, this could lead to a shortage for others when it is most needed.
How do I know if I am in an at-risk group?
Any adult who has been offered an annual NHS flu vaccine by their GP surgery should consider themselves in an at-risk group and should be vigilant about social distancing.