Coronavirus – the do’s, the don’ts and the myths

Coronavirus or Covid – 19 to use its new name, is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways.

In the UK ( as of February 24th) there have been a total of thirteen ( 13) confirmed cases. If more cases are confirmed in the UK, it will be announced as soon as possible by the Chief Medical Officer of the affected country.

As of 23 February, a total of 6,324 people have been tested in the UK, of which 6,315 were confirmed negative and 9 positives. These figures do not yet include the confirmed cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

How is coronavirus spread?

Because it's a new illness, it is not known exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person Similar viruses spread in cough droplets. It’s highly unlikely coronavirus can be spread through packages from affected countries or through food.

What's the risk of catching coronavirus in the UK?

The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. But the risk to individuals remains low. Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus.

How to avoid catching or spreading germs

There's currently no vaccine for coronavirus - but there are things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading.

Do

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

  • put used tissues in the bin immediately

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Don't

  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

 

Symptoms of coronavirus

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a cough

  • a high temperature

  • shortness of breath

 

Call 111 if you have all 3 of these symptoms. Tell 111 about any recent travel and any symptoms you have.

 

How to isolate yourself if you could have coronavirus

If there's a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked to isolate yourself.

This means that for up to 14 days, you should:

  • stay at home

  • not go to work, school or public areas

  • not use public transport or taxis

  • ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you

  • try to avoid visitors to your home – it's OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food

 

While the risk to people in the UK is low, these steps can help reduce the possible spread of infection.

The Myths

Are hand dryers effective in killing the new coronavirus?  No. Hand dryers are not effective. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, you should frequently clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Once your hands are clean, you should dry them thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.

Can an ultraviolet disinfection lamp kill the new coronavirus?  UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation.

How effective are thermal scanners in detecting people infected with the new coronavirus? Thermal scanners are effective in detecting people who have developed a fever. However, they cannot detect people who are infected but are not yet sick with fever. This is because it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever.

 

Can spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body kill the new coronavirus? No. Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth). Be aware that both alcohol and chlorine can be useful to disinfect surfaces, but they need to be used under appropriate recommendations.

Is it safe to receive a letter or a package from China? Yes, it is safe. People receiving packages from China are not at risk of contracting the new coronavirus. From previous analysis, we know coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.

 

Do vaccines against pneumonia protect you against the new coronavirus? No. Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and Haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) vaccine, do not provide protection against the new coronavirus.

Can regularly rinsing your nose with saline help prevent infection with the new coronavirus? No. There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new coronavirus. 

There is some limited evidence that regularly rinsing nose with saline can help people recover more quickly from the common cold. However, regularly rinsing the nose has not been shown to prevent respiratory infections.

Does putting on sesame oil block the new coronavirus from entering the body? No. Sesame oil does not kill the new coronavirus. There are some chemical disinfectants that can kill the 2019-nCoV on surfaces. These include bleach/chlorine-based disinfectants, either solvents, 75% ethanol, peracetic acid and chloroform.

However, they have little or no impact on the virus if you put them on the skin or under your nose. It can even be dangerous to put these chemicals on your skin.

 

Does the new coronavirus affect older people, or are younger people also susceptible? People of all ages can be infected by the new coronavirus. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. 

People of all ages should take steps to protect themselves from the virus, for example by following good hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene.

 

Are antibiotics effective in preventing and treating the new coronavirus? No, antibiotics do not work against viruses, only bacteria. The new coronavirus is a virus and, therefore, antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment.

However, if you are hospitalized with coronavirus, you may receive antibiotics because bacterial co-infection is possible.

Are there any specific medicines to prevent or treat the new coronavirus?

To date, there is no specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the new coronavirus.

However, those infected with the virus should receive appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimized supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials.

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