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COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

COVID-19 is an illness that can impact on the lungs and airways. It’s triggered by a new mutation of the Coronavirus.

  • New illness that affects the respiratory system
  • Currently no treatment as such for the condition
  • People with the illness should self-isolate until they have recovered

If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms, a fever, or cough, or think you may have coronavirus and would like to speak to a doctor, we are temporarily offering 10 minute online video consultations with our clinicians at a cost of £1. This fee will be donated to a research fund for the disease. When booking your appointment, just use the promo code CORONA. 

COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
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Description

PLEASE NOTE: This page contains information on coronavirus and COVID-19. However, because this is a new strain of this type of virus, researchers and doctors are learning new information about the condition as time progresses. So information and guidance on this subject can change fairly quickly. We will strive to ensure that we keep this page as up-to-date as possible. For the most up-to-date available advice on coronavirus, check the gov.uk website.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is an illness that has only recently emerged. It can affect the lungs and airways, and it’s caused by a virus, known as coronavirus. 

It is understood that the virus originated in Wuhan, in China. The first confirmed, diagnosed case of the virus was reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 8 December 2019. 

It has gone on to affect nearly every country in the world, affecting hundreds of thousands of people globally.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The NHS (National Health Service) have indicated that symptoms consist of a high temperature (specifically, you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) and a new, persistent cough. 

WHO advise that common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties. 

It is important to note however that symptoms can also be more extreme. In more severe cases, infection may trigger pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome, and can result in death. 

Furthermore, some people may not experience any symptoms, and can be asymptomatic. Subsequently, there have been reported cases of transmission from one individual to another without any knowledge of that person carrying the virus in the first place. This is not however understood to be the primary form of transmission. 

Given that the virus can be asymptomatic, every person should try to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. 

You must stay at home. 

The UK Government advises that you should not leave your home unless it is for one of four reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities;
  • travelling to and from work, but only if it is not possible for you to work from home;
  • due to a medical need, or caring or supporting a vulnerable person;
  • exercise, which is permitted once a day.

People must not gather in groups of more than two. When outside, people are required to observe social distancing rules (remaining at least two metres apart from other persons at all times).

You should also wash your hands with soap and water frequently, for a minimum of 20 seconds each time.

Do not:

  • Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren’t clean
  • Allow visitors to come to your home, including friends and family

The NHS will get in touch with you from 23rd March 2020 if you are at particularly high risk of becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus. They will provide you with instructions as to what to do. 

You should refrain from contacting your healthcare team at this point. They will contact you.

What are the causes of coronavirus?

Because coronavirus is a new illness, we don’t know exactly how it is most likely to be spread from one person to another. It’s thought that, like similar viruses, it is transmitted between people via cough droplets, or from touching a contaminated surface then ingesting the viral cells (by touching your eyes or mouth or touching food).

Patient groups who are at greater risk of contracting the illness are understood to be people over the age of 65, and people with underlying health conditions, or are immunocompromised. 

Can you prevent COVID-19?

While there is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood that you’ll contract the condition or spread it. 

It’s recommended that you:

  • Stay at home
  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, for a minimum of 20 seconds
  • Make sure that you wash your hands when you arrive at work and return home
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitiser gel to wash your hands
  • Use a tissue (rather than your hands) to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Dispose of used tissues in the bin as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
  • Where you can, avoid any close contact with people who are unwell
  • Travel on public transport only if necessary
  • Work from home, if you have the capacity to do so
  • Use phone, services online or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS facilities

Do not:

  • Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren’t clean
  • Allow visitors to come to your home, including friends and family

The NHS have stated that from 23rd March 2020, they will contact patients who are at particularly high risk of becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus. If this applies to you, they will provide you with instructions as to what to do. 

You should refrain from contacting your healthcare team at this point. They will contact you.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

In spite of approximately 35 companies and academic institutions working towards creating a vaccine, with at least four companies reported to be in the process of testing their vaccines in animals, there isn’t, at time of writing, a vaccine for coronavirus. Typically, it takes 10 years or more for a vaccine to get regulatory approval, with clinical trials having to be conducted before vaccines can be regulated. The sheer quantities of a vaccine that would be required for COVID-19 also present potential production challenges for companies. 

It has been estimated by senior public health officials in England that early 2021 is the absolute earliest a vaccine will become publicly available.

Currently, containment and delay are the best means of restricting the spread of the virus.

Is COVID-19 treatable?

Antiviral drug combinations are being trialled, but as things stand, there is no definitive treatment for the virus. Treatment, where required, currently focuses on easing symptoms. 

Many people with mild symptoms will make a recovery without treatment. 

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?

If you think you may have coronavirus, the guidance is as follows:

  • You should remain at home if you have either a high temperature (your chest or back feel hot to touch) or you have a new, persistent cough
  • Refrain from going to a GP surgery, a pharmacy or a hospital 
  • Do not inform the 111 service that you are staying at home (it isn’t necessary)
  • Testing for the virus is not required if you are staying at home
  • If you are experiencing symptoms, remain at home for 7 days
  • If you live with other people, they should remain at home for 14 days from the day the first person experienced symptoms
  • In the event that you live with someone who is 70 years or over, has a long-term health condition, is pregnant or who has a weakened immune system, you should try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as often as you can

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • You feel that you can’t cope with the symptoms you’re experiencing at home
  • Your condition worsens
  • Your symptoms do not improve after 7 days

You should only call 111 if you can’t get help online.

Page last reviewed:  30/03/2020
Diagnosis and treatment

How is coronavirus diagnosed?

Coronavirus can be diagnosed via testing, but it should be noted that, currently, only people who are at greatest risk of becoming severely ill are priority cases for testing. Those who are receiving hospital care for pneumonia or acute respiratory illness constitute priority cases. 

Will I need tests?

Current guidelines state that the above patient groups will be prioritised, and that people who are experiencing a cough or fever do not typically require testing. 

At time of writing, tests are primarily issued for the following groups:

  • All patients who are in critical care for pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) or flu-like illness
  • All other patients requiring hospitalisation for pneumonia, ARDS or flu-like illness. 
  • In cases where there has been an outbreak in a residential or care environment, such as a long-term care facility or prisons

Any other individuals who have a high temperature or a new, continuous cough should remain at home for 7 days. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or a hospital. Contacting 111 to inform them that you’re staying at home is not necessary. 

Testing for coronavirus is not required if you are staying at home.

If you feel unable to cope with your symptoms at home, your condition deteriorates, or your symptoms do not improve after 7 days, use the 111 coronavirus service.  You should only call 111 if you cannot obtain help online. 

How is coronavirus managed?

Because there is no specific treatment for the illness, you should isolate yourself from all other people until you have recovered. 

The following measures can help with symptoms at home, and prevent the illness from spreading:

  • Anyone who has symptoms should self-isolate for at least 7 days
  • If you live with others, they should remain at home for at least 14 days, to prevent spreading the infection outside of the home
  • If anyone else in your home gets symptoms, they should remain at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms emerge (even if that entails them being at home for longer than 14 days)
  • In the event that you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has weakened immunity, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days
  • If you have to remain at home together, try to avoid each other as much as you can
  • If you continue to have a high temperature after 7 days, you should remain at home until your temperature returns to normal
  • Aim to ensure that you are at least 2 meters (3 steps) from any other person in your home, especially older people or people with long-term health conditions
  • Ask friends, family and delivery services to deliver items such as food shopping and medicines, but avoid any contact with them
  • Sleep alone, if you are able to
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water regularly for a minimum of 20 seconds
  • Try to avoid any contact with older people and people with long-term health conditions
  • Consume plenty of water and take paracetamol to help ease symptoms
  • Do not have any visitors, and request that people deposit deliveries outside
  • Refrain from leaving the house (for instance, to go for a walk or purchase necessities).

You should use the NHS online coronavirus 111 service in the following circumstances only:

  • You feel that you can’t cope with symptoms at home
  • Your condition worsens
  • Your symptoms do not improve after 7 days

If you have flu-like symptoms which you are concerned about and would like to speak to a doctor, you can book a 10 minute online video consultation with a member of our health team for £1. The cost will be donated to a coronavirus research fund. Simply add the voucher code CORONA during checkout, and book an appointment at a time that is convenient for you.

Page last reviewed:  30/03/2020
Questions and Answers

How is coronavirus treated?

There is no defined treatment for coronavirus at this stage. People with a high temperature or a new, persistent cough are advised to stay at home for 7 days. Should your condition worsen, or your symptoms not improve after 7 days, or if you feel unable to cope with your symptoms, use the 111 coronavirus service (if you can’t get help online).

How long will it take for me to recover?

Recovery depends on the strength of your immune system, and so there isn’t a definitive figure on this. You should remain in isolation until you have recovered.

Can I travel whilst efforts are made to contain and treat coronavirus?

The Foreign Office (FCO) is advising UK nationals against all non-essential international travel. At time of writing, border closures and other travel restrictions are increasing across the world. The FCO advice is of immediate effect as of 17 March 2020, for an initial 30-day period. 

Can I consult a doctor about coronavirus online?

If you develop symptoms such as a cough, fever and breathing difficulties, and you are worried about these symptoms, you can speak to one of our doctors via our online video consultation service. We are offering 10 minute consultations at a cost of £1, by adding the voucher code CORONA. This fee will be donated to research into the virus. Book an appointment at a suitable time for you.

Page last reviewed:  30/03/2020

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