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Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to know

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to know

The past few weeks have no doubt been stressful. We’ve all been bombarded with news related to coronavirus. Sometimes it might feel like it’s a lot of noise. You might not know what to believe, how seriously to take this information and/or how to react. Maybe you’re feeling incredibly anxious. We want to help – even if that just means offering some virtual support. Below we’ve compiled some resources meant to educate, support and provide the information you may need.

COVID-19 is a new virus that originated in Wuhan, China. It appears to be more aggressive than the influenza virus which causes seasonal flu or other viruses in the coronavirus family that usually cause mild upper respiratory illness, such as the common cold. However, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this new virus, and experts around the world are working to better understand it. Here are some things you may want to know.

Sources we’ve used: NHS, GOV.UK, Public Health England, World Health Organisation.

What is a coronavirus? What is COVID-19? Are they the same thing?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause respiratory illness in people. Just like there are different types of related viruses that cause chickenpox, shingles or several types of hepatitis, different coronaviruses cause different diseases in people. The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, is one of seven types of known human coronaviruses. The other known coronaviruses cause a significant percentage of colds in adults and children, but they’re not a serious threat for otherwise healthy adults. Generally speaking, the words ‘coronavirus’ and ‘COVID-19’ are being used interchangeably at the moment for the sake of simplicity.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Like the flu or a common cold, coronavirus symptoms include:

– fever;

– cough;

– shortness of breath.

How does coronavirus spread?

Because it’s a new illness, we don’t yet know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person. Similar viruses are spread in cough or sneeze droplets from someone who’s infected with coronavirus. It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

How can I avoid catching or spreading coronavirus?


– wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds;

– always wash your hands when you get home or into work;

– use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water aren’t 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;

– try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

How do we treat coronavirus?

There’s currently no specific treatment for coronavirus. Antibiotics do not help, as they don’t work against viruses. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms, such as shortness of breath, while your body fights the illness.

Will wearing a mask protect me from coronavirus?

 You should only wear a mask if a health care professional advises it. The use of face masks also is crucial for health workers and other people who are taking care of someone infected with coronavirus in close settings (such as a nursing home).

In the general population (that is, those NOT displaying symptoms such as coughing or sneezing), paper face masks are not recommended by Public Health England, the NHS or other major health authorities. They’re ill-fitting and what protection they might initially provide soon expires. Worse, they quickly become moist inside, providing the perfect environment for germs to thrive in, and also become a hazard for others if carelessly discarded.

What should I do if I get sick and think it might be the coronavirus?

The latest UK guidance (19 March 2020) states that you should stay at home for 7 days if you live on your own or everyone in a household should stay at home for 14 days if anyone has either:

– a high temperature, and/or

– a new continuous cough.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home. People who are self-isolating with mild symptoms will not be tested for coronavirus.

If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online; only dial NHS 111 if you’re unable to access the online service. For a medical emergency, always dial 999.

As of 5:00 p.m. on 19 March 2020, 61,352 people have been tested in the UK, of which:

–  58,083 were confirmed negative;

– 3,269 were confirmed as positive, 7 of these in Dorset;

– a total of 144 patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

How do I manage my worries about COVID-19?

Information coming in from news channels and social media can be certainly anxiety-provoking, but arming yourself with credible information from credible sources, like the NHS or GOV.UK websites can help streamline the type of information that you need to know from the information that you don’t.

As always, try to keep to your daily routine when possible, drink fluids, eat healthy meals, and get exercise and plenty of sleep.

Find out how Dorset Mind can you support you here.

Thank you to our volunteer guest blogger Rita Arresta for writing this blog.

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