Coronavirus update: It is safe to exercise outdoors? UK chief medical adviser reveals all

The UK government escalated its attempts to minimise the harm posed by the COVD-19 outbreak on Friday night when it announced all pubs and restaurants in the UK must close immediately. This comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the difficult decision to force all schools to close on Thursday, with the exception of keeping its doors open to children of key healthcare workers and those who need specialised support. The aim of the measures is clear; to minimise daily contact in a bid to reduce the rate of transmission.


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In light of the government’s crackdown, you may be wondering if it is safe for you and your children to go outside and get some fresh air and exercise.

According to the government’s chief medical adviser Professor Chris Whitty, going out to get some fresh air and exercise is not off-limits.

On the contrary, Professor Whitty said getting clean air and engaging in physical activity is important for the mind and body during this uncertain time.

However, Prof Whitty did include some caveats.

The chief medical officer said it is important to avoid crowded areas and not stay out for prolonged periods of time.

What other social distancing measures are currently in place?

According to the government, if you have mild symptoms of the coronavirus you’ll need to stay at home for seven days.

Also, if you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms.

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Furthermore, if you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

According to the NHS, if you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

What counts as mild symptoms?

Mild symptoms include:

  • 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)

Anecdotal reports have also cited a dry sore throat as a first stage symptom.


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According to the NHS, if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after seven days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency, dial 999.

In addition to maintaining social distancing, it is also important to adhere to the prescribed hygiene standards.

The most important measure to protect others against the pathogen is to wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser.

As the NHS explains, you should repeat this practice every time you enter a new environment.

Other hygiene tips include:

  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

The health body advises against touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

The advice is based on what is currently understood about the virus. Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

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