What is Coronavirus, COVID-19?
Coronavirus, COVID-19 was first recognised in China in December 2019. It is a virus which is part of a family of viruses which can cause mild illness such as the common cold to more severe illness such as SARS.
Since the start of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has become a global health emergency with many countries imposing travel restrictions. Guidance for households with possible infection and individuals with any of the known symptoms is to self-isolate at home.
Under current UK COVID-19 restrictions, you must stay at home. You must not leave home or travel, including internationally, unless you have a legally permitted reason to do so.
From 15 February 2021, if you are entering England from abroad, additional requirements apply for quarantining and COVID-19 tests. Those travelling from a country on the banned travel list you will be required to quarantine in a hotel.
Travellers should be aware that this type of virus is commonly transmitted through respiratory droplets, such as saliva or droplets from the nose when a person coughs or sneezes.
It is possible that the virus can be spread through faeces, blood and urine.
There is currently no vaccine for the virus. However, there are medications to control symptoms of the disease.
What are the main symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms are:
- the recent onset of a persistent cough, and/or
- a high temperature, and/or
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
For most people COVID-19 will be a mild illness, and some may not display any symptoms at all.
Who is at risk of Coronavirus, COVID-19?
Anyone who is in close contact with a person already carrying the virus is at risk.
Respiratory droplets pass airborne viruses from one person to another. This can happen through coughing and sneezing when people are in close contact (less than 1-2 metres). The airborne virus can then land on a person’s hands, nose or mouth and then enter into the respiratory system.
How can I prevent Coronavirus, COVID-19?
To lower the risk of Coronavirus, COVID-19 the following precautions can be taken:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
- Maintain good personal hygiene especially after being in public places and before eating food
- Carry some antibacterial wipes for emergencies – especially when you are using public bathrooms or using public transport
- Try to avoid touching your face including your mouth, nose and eyes
- Do not share personal items such as toothbrushes, towels etc.
- Maintain social distancing. Keep a distance of at least 2m (6ft) between yourself and other people, especially if they are coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid contact with others showing symptoms of flu-like symptoms or who appear unwell
- Maintain good communication with those you are unable to be with due to social distancing using e-mail and telephone
- Keep up to date with travel advisories and information from your government when moving around your own country or travelling overseas
- Check advice when you return to your own country regarding precautions you should take if you have been to an area where cases of COVID-19 are considered high
- If at any time you feel unwell with mild flu-like symptoms it is important to stay at home for 10 days. The UK Government has published a stay-at-home document with advice. For more severe symptoms a person in the UK should call NHS 111 for advice
- Vulnerable people should follow advice to prevent COVID-19
- You should also be remember that if you try to take a flight and are suffering from a respiratory problem you could be refused access to the flight – if you have an existing condition make sure you have a letter from your doctor!
- Before travelling overseas to certain countries during the “flu” season it is advisable to discuss flu vaccination with your health advisor.
Those travelling should:
- Avoid live food markets where animals and birds are sold for food
- Maintain good food hygiene and only eat food which has been well cooked in at risk areas
- Maintain good personal hygiene
COVID Symptom Tracker
You can help slow the spread of COVID-19 by self-reporting your symptoms daily, even if you feel well.