What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. Seven of the viruses, including Covid 19, have made the jump to humans.
Two of the other coronaviruses – Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) are particularly dangerous to humans.
The Novel Coronavirus (Covid 19) is a highly contagious virus, originally located in Wuhan in the Hubei province of China but is now affecting people across the globe.
There is currently no vaccine to protect against it. Scientists in China believe that Covid-19 has mutated into two strains, one more aggressive than the other, and this could make developing a vaccine more complicated.
How many people have died from Coronavirus?
Since the start of the outbreak, more than 95,000 cases have been confirmed and more than 3,200 people have died. The vast majority of cases are in China, but the virus has now spread to 40 other countries. According to data from the Chinese authorities, around 80 per cent of cases of the disease are mild, but 20 per cent require hospitalisation.
In the UK 85 people have tested positive to date and this number is likely to rise in the coming months.
Putting Coronavirus in Perspective – will Coronavirus kill me?
For most people (80%) Coronavirus is a relatively mild dose of flu and is not life-threatening. If you are young and healthy your immune system will be able to fight the virus. However, coronavirus can cause serious complications, particularly pneumonia, in people who are immuno-compromised, have other pre-existing medical conditions and the elderly.
The World Health Organization’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that “globally, about 3.4% of reported Covid-19 cases have died”. Scientists’ estimate of the death rate is lower because not all cases are reported. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK government’s “very best assessment” was that the mortality rate was “2% or, likely, lower”.
Is Coronavirus more serious than flu?
Coronavirus is not nearly as deadly as flu which continues to kill thousands of people in the UK every winter and the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that an average of up to 500,000 people die annually across the globe due to the flu.
Symptoms of Coronavirus:
Symptoms are similar to flu and include:
- Dry cough
- Extreme tiredness
- Aching muscles
How to reduce the risk of catching the novel Coronavirus
The best way to protect yourself from all respiratory viruses including Coronavirus by following the basic advice from the WHO:
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly using soap and hot water
- Avoid people who are coughing and sneezing
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth as you could transmit the virus from your hands
You can also:
- Cover your nose or mouth with a tissue if you cough or sneeze. Bin or flush the tissue and wash your hands thoroughly.
- If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your elbow, not into your hands.
- Ensure that you regularly clean surfaces with an anti-bacterial cleaner at work and at home (The virus can continue to live on surfaces for a few hours).
Effective Hand Washing
Watch this NHS video to make sure you are washing your hands properly:
Should I wear a mask?
Masks offer very limited protection and once they are damp offer barely any protection at all. Touching an infected mask will transfer any infection to your hands.
I think I have caught Coronavirus – what should I do?
If you think you have symptoms or you might have been exposed to the virus:
- Do not visit your GP, pharmacist or hospital – stay at home and call 111 or use the online 111 services.
- They will arrange for you to be tested. Tests can take between 20 hours and a few days to receive results
- Quarantine yourself at home for the next 14 days as it can take this long for symptoms to appear
- Arrange delivery of essential items to your home, but minimise your contact with delivery personnel to ensure you do not infect them and put them at risk.
- Increase your fluids
- Take painkillers and flu remedies to ease symptoms
- Phone 111 if you experience increasing breathlessness and are concerned you may be developing complications or pneumonia
Basic Infection Control is included on all our first aid courses and we provide specialist training in this subject for Dental and GP Practices.
Knowing what to do in a medical emergency can mean the difference between life and death.