In this article we’ll look at what coronavirus is, the symptoms, and top tips to help stop the spread.

What is Coronavirus?

This article has been medically approved by Superintendent Pharmacist Shilpa Shailen Karia, MRPharmS. - GPhC Reg No: 2087328

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals. There are 7 Coronaviruses that have made the jump from animals to humans, including Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and Covid-19.

Covid-19 is different to SARS and MERS because the spectrum of the disease is broad. When SARS swept around the world in 2002 – 2003, it was easier to control as the people who were infected became seriously ill. However, around 80% of Covid-19 cases will be classed as a mild infection, and some may not know they have it at all.

Most people who become infected with Covid-19 will recover without requiring any special treatment, whereas older people, and those with underlying medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness. So far, around 20% of Covid-19 cases have been classed as severe. The current death rate varies between 0.7% and 3.4% depending on location and access to good hospital care.

Symptoms of Covid-19

The main symptoms of Covid-19 are:

  • High temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Preventing the Spread

Covid-19 is primarily spread through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose of an infected person. These are propelled when the person coughs or sneezes, so it is important to observe proper respiratory etiquette (like coughing into your elbow). If these droplets land on surfaces, the virus can survive for several hours.

To prevent the spread of Covid-19, you should observe social distancing measures by staying 2 meters away from others. You should also follow ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ guidelines by catching sneezes in a tissue, throwing them away and then washing your hands. Frequent handwashing is considered to be the most important precaution, as well as not touching the eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.

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