Everything you need to know about Covid-19
As the UK declares a lockdown in an attempt to combat the coronavirus pandemic, here is everything you need to know about the virus and how to stay safe in these unprecedented times.
What is a coronavirus?
According to the World Health Organisation, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which have the ability to cause illness in both animals and humans. In humans it has been known to cause mild illnesses such as colds. However, coronaviruses have also been responsible for causing a number of dangerous respiratory conditions including Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the most recently discovered Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
What makes COVID-19 different?
The new strain of coronavirus is highly infectious and can be dangerous. Though it manifests itself in similar ways to MERS and SARS, the fact that this strain of the virus has never been seen before makes it a complicated one to treat. According to scientists in China, COVID-19 has developed into two separate strains, making developing a vaccine more complicated.
What are the symptoms?
Major symptoms of coronavirus disease include a fever, a dry cough and extreme fatigue. Other patients have reported feeling aches and pains, nasal congestion and a sore throat, however these symptoms are less common. Symptoms of coronavirus usually begin mild and develop gradually.
It is important to note, however, that it is entirely possible to become infected with this disease without showing symptoms or feeling unwell.
How can I prevent myself from catching or spreading it?
WHO now recommends that extensive measures are taken in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Regularly and thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if hand washing facilities are not available.
- Maintain at least 2-metres (6 feet) distance between yourself and other people. This is now known as social distancing.
- Avoid touching your face as much as possible.
- Making sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene.
- Staying at home unless absolutely necessary. The UK government have now ordered citizens to stay indoors unless they are labelled as key workers who need to work, leaving the house to exercise, or to shop for essentials for yourself or someone you are caring for.
How did it start?
Though it is not yet confirmed how the virus broke out, the animal source of the virus has been linked to bats. Evidence also points to a “wet market” in Wuhan, China being the source of the outbreak. It is thought that the poor hygiene standards and the process of live animals being kept and butchered on site contributed to the risk of viruses transmitting to other animals. The busy nature of these markets also made it easier for the virus to be transmitted to a human.
The amount of time the pandemic will continue for, and how much worse it will get is currently unknown. Officials recommend keeping an eye on the World Health Organisation and Public Health England, as well as reliable news sources for regular updates on how to protect yourself and those around you.
The most important message right now is follow the government rules and stay at home unless absolutely necessary.
Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.