By Liv Davies
Coronavirus disease is a disease cause by a virus named COVID-19 is well known around the world. The outbreak – known as the 2019-20 Coronavirus outbreak has dominated the news for most of 2020 – but do you know how to prevent it?
The COVID-19 virus causes a disease closely related to SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome. This disease causes similar respiratory symptoms to COVD-19, and the virus is also closely related. The COVID-19 virus is supposedly spread through respiratory droplets that are expelled during coughing or sneezing. However, the full mechanisms by which the spread occurs is unknown. After a person is infected there is usually an incubation time of around 2-14 days – this is when the patient will have no symptoms, but is infected with the virus.
At the end of January, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. As of March of this year, coronavirus has been found in all six WHO regions. This has caused many people to be concerned about the possibility of a pandemic. However, WHO have not officially declared this level of severity.
Symptoms of coronavirus include a cough, shortness of breath, and a high temperature. However it is known that a sore throat and runny rose are less common symptoms. If the virus develops into a serious condition patients usually develop pneumonia and kidney failure. This can lead to death in some vulnerable people. Viruses invade cells and hijack the cell’s own replicating ability in order to create more viruses, causing it to spread around the body and to other people. The COVID-19 virus accesses the host cells via an enzyme called ACE2 that is located mainly in the lungs and kidneys. Which explains the respiratory symptoms in most patients, and pneumonia and kidney failure in some. The density of ACE2 enzymes can vary between individuals, and from this it can be understood how two similarly healthy individuals can be affected differently by the same disease.
To prevent this disease from spreading, public health organisations around the world have been giving guidelines to citizens. The NHS has issued a statement suggesting that the greatest way to prevent the spread of this disease is by handwashing. The NHS recommends 20 seconds of handwashing, especially before eating or cooking, or after you sneeze or cough. They also recommend not to touch your eyes, mouth unless your hands are washed. Disposable tissues should be used once and then discarded.
If you do have symptoms of coronavirus including a cough, shortness of breath, and a high temperature, you must NOT go to your GP surgery. This will be endangering the health of both the doctors and the patients at the surgery. You must call 111 which is the NHS helpline and they will provide you with the correct information on what to do next. If the NHS health workers believe you have Coronavirus, they will ask you to self-isolate. This is to contain the spread, and stop you spreading it to other members of the public. Self-isolation means you must stay at home and not attend work, or education. You must not use any form of public transport, including taxi services, and you must avoid visitors to your home as much as possible.
Using shared accommodation may be tricky when you are self isolating. However the NHS recommends staying in your room with the door close, only using the bathroom and kitchen when necessary. They also recommend that the self-isolator cleans the bathroom or kitchen thoroughly after use.
These guidelines are put in place to prevent the spread of this virus, in order to stop vulnerable people from catching COVID-19. Vulnerable people include the elderly and the immunocompromised – it is important to follow guidelines even if the symptoms you have are mild.