Coronavirus UK advice for the elderly

Coronavirus UK advice for the elderly main image

Coronavirus is a new virus impacting countries throughout the world. The illness, known as Covid-19 affects the lungs and airways and can be particularly harmful to the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions. But what are the symptoms of coronavirus and how can we protect those most at risk?

The following information (taken from the NHS, government and BBC websites) explains what coronavirus is, the symptoms and what we can do to protect the elderly.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus that causes an illness known as Covid-19. The illness can affect anyone and most people will recover quite quickly. However, for the elderly or those with weak immune systems, including people with asthma, diabetes or heart disease, contracting coronavirus could lead to more severe symptoms.     

Understandably coronavirus is headline news across the world as countries put plans in place to contain the virus. Having started in China, Covid-19 now has a foothold worldwide with flights being cancelled and entry into many countries banned.

But with the whole of Italy in quarantine and the impending lock down of Spain, what is the UK doing and is it enough to protect its residents?

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Coronavirus prevention in the UK

The UK’s approach to coronavirus is based on scientific and behavioral evidence, aimed at delaying the onset of Covid-19 so the NHS can cope. Currently the Governments advice is to:

  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds using soap or a hand sanitiser
  • Cough into a tissue and then throw the tissue away
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay at least 2 metres away from people where possible
  • If you can work from home do so
  • If you have any coronavirus symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days
  • Do not go to your doctor. If your symptoms worsen, call NHS 111 or contact NHS 111 online

This advice will change as the virus takes hold. Possible next steps to delay the spread will most likely include a ban on large gatherings however you can keep up to date with the Governments latest coronavirus news here.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Coronavirus symptoms are as follows:

  • A new and continuous cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms are like other illness so do not necessarily mean you have coronavirus. However, if you do have any of these symptoms, you must self-isolate for 7 days to ensure the virus is contained.

If you are concerned about covid-19, the NHS coronavirus symptoms checker will help guide you on the right course of action.

Coronavirus treatment

As coronavirus is new, there is no treatment for it and antibiotics do not work against virus’ anyway. It is therefore extremely important to practice good hygiene and follow the government’s advice.

What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

If you feel unwell, isolate yourself from other people for 7 days until the virus passes. Do not go to your doctor. There is no need to contact NHS 111 as you will not be tested for Covid-19. However, if your symptoms get worse or haven’t improved after 7 days, contact NHS 111 for more advice.

You should drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated and if appropriate, you can use over the counter medication such as paracetamol to help with the symptoms. As always though these should be used inline with the advice on the packet.

What does self-isolation mean?

Self-isolation is important to protect friends, family and especially the elderly and help limit the spread of coronavirus. If you are self-isolating you should:

  • Remain at home
  • Do not go out to work, the shops or any public areas
  • Keep away from other people in the house where possible
  • Ask friends or family to buy groceries or order online. The groceries should then be left outside for you to collect. The person making the delivery should not enter your home.
  • Stay in a well ventilated room to keep the air clean
  • Use your own eating and drinking utensils toothbrushes, towels and bed linen
  • Do not share food or drink

If you have a garden or outside space, you may go outside as long as you keep at least 2 metres away from other household members.

Coronavirus advice for the over 70s

Coronavirus advice for the over 70s is currently to follow the government’s hygiene advice. However in future weeks, over 70s may be advised to stay indoors. This next step towards fighting coronavirus could go on for some weeks so understandably the government doesn’t want to impose it too soon.

The strain of remaining indoors for the over 70s is obviously a big concern so it’s important to ensure support networks are available through family, friends and the community.

Should I stop visiting the elderly because of coronavirus?

It’s essential that we protect our elderly from coronavirus however isolation can impact our mental wellbeing. Therefore, if there are no signs of coronavirus, the government advise that you shouldn’t stop going out or meeting people. You just need to be vigilant and adhere to their recommended hygiene practices.

If an elderly person is self-isolating, it’s important to keep in touch with them via the phone, online or by post. Remember you should contact NHS if their symptoms become severe or prolonged.

Mental health charity Mind provide excellent information on how to take care of your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus travel advice

Coronavirus is having a huge impact on travel with airlines canceling flights as borders close. Tubes, trains and other forms of public transport have also seen a drop in foot flow. If you are preparing to travel:

  • Check the government’s latest travel advice before you go
  • Where relevant check you have the necessary travel insurance
  • Check with your travel provider whether there are any coronavirus related changes to schedule
  • Have a plan B in the event of disruption

Frequently asked coronavirus questions

Should I wear a facemask to protect against coronavirus?

There is currently little evidence to support facemasks as an effective way of coronavirus prevention. It is therefore more important to follow the government’s hygiene practices.

Should I stop going out and seeing people?

If you are showing no coronavirus symptoms, it is ok to continue going out and meeting people. Just remember to regularly wash your hands, use a tissue for coughs, don’t touch your face and where possible, keep 2 metres from people.

What does herd immunity mean?

Herd immunity is usually where most of the population are vaccinated against a disease meaning it’s difficult for that disease to spread.

In the case of coronavirus, there is no vaccination as it’s a new virus. However, herd immunity can occur naturally when the population are exposed to a virus and build up their own immune system, therefore stemming the spread of the illness.

What is the difference between coronavirus and flu?

Flu is caused by an influenza virus, a different strain of virus to covid-19.  Both flu and coronavirus are infectious, affect the respiratory system and can lead to pneumonia. However, as flu has been studied by scientists for years, treatments and preventions such as the flu jab are available to keep the spread contained. Therefore the risk is not as great.

Does coronavirus affect cats and dogs?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that cats and dos can be infected by coronavirus.

What should I do if a member of my household contracts coronavirus?

If you live in a household where someone contracts coronavirus, the latest advice is that all household members should self-isolate.

Can you get coronavirus twice?

There is no evidence to support whether you can get coronavirus twice as it’s a new virus. However it is hoped that once you have it, you will build up your own immunity to further contamination.

Is there a vaccine for coronavirus?

There is currently no vaccine for this coronavirus. Scientists are working hard to find one however this could be 12 months away.

Will warmer weather stop the outbreak?

It’s too early to say, but if coronavirus behaves the same as the flu and common colds, then it’s likely to be worse in months where the weather is cooler.

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