THE over-60s appear to be at greater risk of developing complications from coronavirus – but is everyone else safe?
What you should do if you suspect you have it may differ depending on your age and medical history.
People have been warned to avoid non-essential travel and contact.
Pregnant women, the over-70s and those with certain health conditions should consider the advice “particularly important”.
Here, GP Dr Philippa Kaye has advice for people of various ages.
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THE risk: The older you get, the more at risk you become.
If you are young, fit and healthy, you don’t need to avoid large gatherings, even though some people are choosing to do so.
For most people, they will suffer only mild symptoms of the virus and should recover fully. The biggest risk for this group is the threat they pose to others.
What to do: Practise good hygiene to reduce the spread of infection. Whenever you arrive anywhere, wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
Where that is not available, use a hand sanitiser instead.
Try not to touch your face and stick to the “catch it, bin it, kill it” rule if you sneeze or cough.
Stay at home for 14 days, along with every other member of your household, if you have either a high temperature — you feel hot to the touch on your chest or back — or a new, continuous cough.
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you are staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you are staying at home.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
You can’t cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or symptoms do not get better after seven days.
Only call 111 if you can’t get help online. More details at 111.nhs.uk/covid-19.
Advice on self-isolating
HERE is a guide on what to do if you are told to self- isolate for 14 days:
Staying at home: Remain in your home, except for getting medical care, even to buy food or essentials. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.
Separate yourself from others in your home and stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened.
If in shared accommodation with a communal kitchen, bathroom and living area, you should stay in your room with the door closed, only coming out when necessary, wearing a facemask if possible.
Use a separate bathroom, if available, and avoid using the kitchen around others.
Waste disposal: Detergents and bleach are effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces. Clean frequently touched surfaces.
Used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely in disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be put into a second bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste in the room.
Keep aside for at least 72 hours before putting into your usual outside bin. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.
Laundry: Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
Takeaways and online orders: Ask the driver to leave things outside. Do not have physical contact.
Coughs and sneezes: Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue. Dispose of tissues in a plastic waste bag and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Washing hands: You need to wash your hands for 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid sharing: Do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, cutlery, towels, bedding or other items in your home when you have used them.
After using these items, wash thoroughly with soap and water — dishwashers may be used to clean crockery and cutlery.
Laundry, bedding and towels should be put in a plastic bag and washed, once it is known the tests for Covid-19 are negative.
Medical advice: Get prompt medical attention if your illness worsens. If it is not an emergency, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111.
If it is an emergency, dial 999 and tell the call handler you have Covid-19. All routine medical and dental appointments should be cancelled while you are at home.
Ending self-isolation: Stay at home until 14 days after the onset of symptoms. If you feel better, return to your normal routine.
If you have not had any signs of improvement, contact NHS 111 online. A persistent cough alone does not mean you must continue to self-isolate.
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The elderly and at-risk
THE risk: The mortality rate appears to rise from the age of 60. The older you are, the greater the risk of you getting the disease and becoming severely ill from it.
What to do: The over-70s have been advised to minimise social contact, avoiding social gatherings.
Keep away from others. Take the dog for a walk – but don’t stop for a chat. Wash your hands often.
Stay at home as much as possible and have a plan for if you do get sick — for example, who can bring food to your home?
THE risk: Anyone with an underlying health condition such as asthma, cancer, lung disease or a heart condition may be more at risk and must self-isolate.
What to do: Contact your healthcare provider to ask about having extra medications on hand. If you are Type 1 diabetic, any infection can spike your blood sugars.
If you are on chemotherapy, you may need to call your oncology unit and go in for a blood test if your temperature is 37.5C or above.
This is standard procedure anyway. The risk of it being a problem with your blood might outweigh any risks of coronavirus — but you need to alert the unit that you have been self-isolating so they can place you in a different room.
Kids, pregnant women, unborn babies
THE risk: If you fear your baby has picked up the infection in the first 28 days of life, you may need to be seen to rule out postnatal sepsis and other complications.
But for most children who contract the virus, it is likely to be mild. They may even be asymptomatic — displaying no signs of it at all.
What to do: If you have a child with a pre-existing condition, have enough of their regular medication.
If your child displays a cough or fever (a temperature of 37.8C or above) they should self-isolate for 14 days along with the rest of the household.
The current advice is that children can go to school or nursery and clubs if not displaying any symptoms.
If you are breastfeeding, consider wearing a mask whilst feeding, or could you express milk and let someone else feed the baby?
If you continue to feed as normal, wash your hands before and after, and try to sneeze and cough away from the baby. The virus does not appear to be transmitted via breast milk.
The risk: Pregnant women are more susceptible to infection as they go through changes that can lower the immune system. They should minimise social contact.
But it does not appear pregnant women are more likely to get the complications of Covid-19, such as breathing difficulties, as they might be with seasonal flu.
And while a newborn baby has tested positive for the virus, the risk of “vertical transmission” — where the baby contracts the virus through the placenta — appears low.
Babies born to mums who have been diagnosed are not suffering abnormalities and there does not appear to be an increased risk of miscarriage or premature labour.
The virus does not appear to increase risk of miscarriage or risk of premature labour.
What to do: If you have to self-isolate and are due an antenatal check-up, call your antenatal team to rearrange. Guidance suggests offering women an extra ultrasound scan after they have recovered from the virus to check all is well.
If self-isolating and you go into labour, call your antenatal team and tell them what is happening. The recommendation is that you would not give birth at home or in a midwifery-led unit.
You should give birth at hospital so doctors can monitor mother and baby’s oxygen levels.
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