Coronavirus is still raging in the UK, a fact the Foreign Secretary acknowledged in the daily press briefing yesterday. Dominic Raab said the UK was still not “past the peak of the virus” and added that “we don’t expect to make any changes to the measures currently in place” after the scientific advisory group (SAGE) meets later this week. In the wake of this meeting, the UK is expected to follow France’s suit and extend the lockdown for another three weeks.
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This spiralling situation, apart from creating a sense of panic among the general population, is bound to pose an unintended but more direct threat to certain groups.
Many people may find themselves in emergency situations but feel a misplaced sense of duty to not burden an overstretched NHS.
What’s more, some people may feel they are doing the right thing by self-isolating when in fact they should be calling 999 immediately.
If you are unsure about whether your symptoms are serious enough to call 999, the NHS 111 service can provide key advice.
According to coronavirus advice page, you should call 999 if you have:
- Signs of a heart attack – pain like a very tight band, heavy weight or squeezing in the centre of your chest
- Signs of a stroke – face drooping on one side, can’t hold both arms up, difficulty speaking
- Severe difficulty breathing – gasping, not being able to get words out, choking or lips turning blue
- Heavy bleeding – that won’t stop
- Severe injuries – or deep cuts after a serious accident
- Seizure (fit) – someone is shaking or jerking because of a fit, or is unconscious (can’t be woken up)
- Sudden, rapid swelling – of the eyes, lips, mouth, throat or tongue
- If you recognise none of these emergency signs, you will be directed to a next set of questions, which aims to determine whether you show mild symptoms of COVID-19.
What are the main mild symptoms?
According to the NHS, the main mild symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- A 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 three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
What should I do if I recognise these symptoms?
The UK government is urging you to not leave your home if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does.
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This policy, called self-isolation, is aimed at reducing the rate of transmission.
If you are self-isolating, you must:
- Not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
- Not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
As the NHS notes, you can use your garden, if you have one.
During self-isolation, you can also exercise, but it should be taken at home.
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How long must I self-isolate for?
Current advice says to self-isolate for seven days if you show symptoms.
After seven days, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to self-isolate, says the NHS.
Also, if you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal.
You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after seven days, however.
As the NHS points out, a cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
Can I reduce my risk of catching and spreading the virus?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), you can protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.
“The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow),” advises WHO.
How near is a vaccine?
“At this time, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for COVID-19. However, there are many ongoing clinical trials evaluating potential treatments,” explains the health body.
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