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A Practical Guide to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Date published
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8 Minutes

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is the classification given to a new illness that can affect the lungs and respiratory pathways. It belongs to a family of viruses known as Coronaviruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory conditions.

How does Coronavirus spread?

The virus is known to spread from person to person, however, as it is a new illness, the exact way it spreads from person to person is still unknown. This will hopefully change in the coming days and weeks.

Similar viruses are spread through coughing and sneezing droplets.

Why is the Coronavirus called Coronavirus?

Corona is the Spanish word for “Crown.” When inspecting the virus under an electron microscope, the virus displays nodes on the ends of its receptors that branch out to aid in its binding mechanism. These nodes make the image of the virus look somewhat like a crown.

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

The symptoms of coronavirus can be like the common cold or flu.

  • Repeated or continuous coughing
  • A fever or high, fluctuating temperature
  • Shortness of breath and respiratory difficulties

What should I do if I have Coronavirus symptoms?

The current advice is to stay at home for 7 days if you have either of the following:

  • A fever, or high temperature
  • A continuous cough that has started in the past few days

If you have any of the above symptoms, DO NOT go to your GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Please stay at home and self-isolate until the symptoms clear (usually within 7 days). Please avoid crowded areas, public places and refrain from socialising whilst you have the symptoms.

By staying at home, you will be helping to:

  • protect other people in your community that could be more susceptible to contracting Coronavirus such as elderly men and women, or immunosuppressed individuals (for example, people with serious health conditions that weaken their immune system like Cancer, Chrohns etc)
  • prevent further spread of the illness through others who may come into contact with children, the elderly, or immunosuppressed individuals

If you are unable to cope with the symptoms at home, or if you condition deteriorates over the next 24-48 hours, or if your symptoms have not subsided after at least 7 days, please use the NHS 111 Online Coronavirus service. You can also contact us at help@expresspharmacy.co.uk where we will aim to direct you to the correct healthcare resource.

If you are unable to get the help that you need using the NHS online coronavirus service, call 111.

How can I avoid catching or spreading Coronavirus?

It is important to maintain good personal hygiene throughout the day to mitigate the chance of catching Coronavirus.

This can be done by following the steps below:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – Please follow this guide on how to wash your hands properly
  • Wash your hands when you get to work, and before you make physical contact with anyone
  • Sanitise any shared workspaces, devices or peripherals (such as phone handsets, keyboards etc) before and after use
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home, and before you make contact with friends, family or anyone else living with you
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, handkerchief or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze
  • Safely dispose of used tissues and wash your hands with soap immediately
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if you hands are unclean

The most important bit of advice that we can give you is to avoid crowded places, events and social gatherings and to stay at home, especially if you are personally at risk or if you have a family member or dependent who is immunosuppressed or over the age of 60. If you are young, fit and healthy, there is a very good chance that you will barely realise if you have contracted Coronavirus. If you display any of the symptoms, however minor, be responsible and self-isolate.

Is there are treatment for Coronavirus?

Currently there is no specific treatment for Coronavirus on the market. Treatments that are currently employed aim to relieve the symptoms whilst your body develops resistance and fights the illness.

To prevent the further spread of the illness, it will be recommended that you stay in isolation, away from other people.

Will antibiotics cure Coronavirus?

Antibiotics will not help against Coronavirus. Antibiotics are used to treat or prevent types of bacterial infection and will not work against infections caused by viruses or fungi. Before you take any medication, please contact a health professional by using the online NHS 111 coronavirus service.

Advice for staying at home (Self-Isolation)

The following advice is for people who have either been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) or for those with symptoms.

If you display the symptoms of Coronavirus, or suspect that you may have recently come into contact with someone who either; had the symptoms, or was later confirmed to have contracted the illness, it is imperative that you stay at home for at least 7 days.

This will help to prevent Coronavirus spreading and protect your local community whilst you recover from the infection.

What should I do in self-isolation?

  • Try to maintain relative distance from others in your household (The NHS recommends at least 2 metres). In particular, older people or those with chronic, or long-term health conditions
  • Drink plenty of water and try to ensure that your diet contains as much vitamin-enriched food as possible
  • Explain your situation to your employer, friends and family so that they can help you where necessary
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Sleep alone, if possible
  • Try to plan ahead and ask for assistance from members of your family or the local community
  • For many people, self-isolation can place a great toll on mental health. Below is some practical advice on how to manage the psychological impact of staying at home (self-isolating).

Practice breathing techniques

How often? Aim for 10 minutes, at least once or twice every day. Try incorporating it into you daily routine, as this is how you will see the best results. There is no limit to how often you can do it.

When? Whenever you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, or if you have spent extended periods of time in front of a Computer screen, TV or mobile device.

How? Make yourself as comfortable as possible. You can do this lying down, sitting in a chair or even standing up.

Why? The breathing exercise outlined below is an easy, non-invasive and natural way to settle your central nervous system, encourage oxygen flow and encourage self-control. The more you practice it, the more useful and powerful it can become.

  1. Empty your lungs. Breathe out through your mouth, attempting to exhale completely and by making a “whooshing” sound.
  2. Breathe in. With your mouth closed gently, inhale quietly through your nose whilst making a mental count of four seconds. Advanced Tip: When breathing in, try to focus on breathing into your diaphragm rather than into chest and lungs. You can practice this by placing one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. As you breathe in, you should feel your stomach “inflate” and your chest stay as still as possible.
  3. Hold your breath. Aim to hold your breath for a mental count of seven seconds.
  4. Breathe out. Exhale completely to a mental count of eight seconds. Make as much of a “whooshing” sound as you can. Advanced Tip: When breathing out, trying to focus on emptying your breath from the base of your stomach. As you breathe out, draw your belly button as far into your stomach as possible.

Repeat. Start the breathing routine again by inhaling and repeating the above steps. Aim for a total of 4 breaths.

This can take some getting used to, especially if you are not used to breathing in a controlled manner. Take your time to improve your technique, and, if necessary speed the exercise up. Even if you can’t keep to the exact time, try to ensure that you keep to the ratio of FOUR COUNTS INHALE / SEVEN COUNTS HOLD BREATH / 8 COUNTS EXHALE.

Whilst it may be difficult, try to limit the amount of time that you spend on social media, or watching the news. Whilst it is important to stay updated on developments relating to Coronavirus, the amount of information available can become overwhelming. In certain cases, the information may be wrong, politically-motivated or intended to cause panic. Take as many breaks as possible from all forms of media. This will help to calm the mind, especially if you are able to incorporate the above breathing techniques.

Community Support

During these difficult times, there are many less privileged or less-abled members of our society and communities who will be at greater risk of falling ill and potentially spreading the virus.

If you have elderly neighbours, please leave them a note under their door to see if they need any assistance.

Extend your support and compassion to members of your community who do not have a roof over their heads. They may not have easy to access to hand sanitisers, soaps, toilet paper, food, vitamins or general hygiene products and with your support, you will be helping them and doing good by your wider community.

If you are able to help those around without putting yourself or your family at risk, please do your part to help your fellow community members.

A little compassion can go a long way but costs nothing.

Respect Healthcare Workers And NHS Staff

The Coronavirus pandemic has put an unprecedented toll on the NHS and its workers. Everyone from GP's, Nurses, Pharmacists, cleaners and support workers will be under immense stress to cope with the increased workloads. They are all human beings who are equally at risk and deserve our support and empathy. Please remember to respect NHS staff and healthcare workers.

Unless your symptoms have not subsided after 7 days, or you are struggling to cope, please do not go to your GP, Pharmacy or Hospital.