The newspaper columns, radio airwaves, and our television screens have been dominated by one topic recently and that has been the coronavirus.However, despite wall-to-wall coverage, there are so many terms and phrases that one can get confused at what to look for and what to do. Here we lay out an easy step-by-step guide in identifying and tackling the problem if you or one of your loved ones end up falling ill.
It is vital that you is left in no doubt what symptoms are linked to the coronavirus. It is thought that symptoms of the disease can take up to 14 days to manifest so if you start to develop the following difficulties, it is crucial that you self-isolate and contact your GP.
The main symptoms include (but not limited to ) are
- A cough - the cough is usually dry but there have been cases where patients have been coughing up phlegm.
- Shortness of breath - this is a key sign where tasks which you would usually complete with the minimum of fuss, leave your lungs gasping for air.
- Breathing difficulties - if you are a healthy person with a strong set of lungs, the change in lung function will be easy to spot. However, those with underlying illnesses will need to contact their GP if they notice any small decline in aerobic capacity.
- Fever - A temperature of more than 38 degrees Celsius or chills are other common symptoms of the virus.
Other symptoms include fatigue, headaches, sore throat, aches, and pains.
If you develop symptoms you will need to self-isolate and phone your GP. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy, or hospital. The GP will assess you over the phone. If they think you need to be tested for coronavirus, they will arrange a test.
This phrase is only a guide as to who might be at risk of contracting the illness. Health officials’ best guesstimates are; spending more than 15 minutes face-to-face contact within two metres of an infected person and/or living in the same house or shared accommodation as an infected person.
If you have been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days and you do not have symptoms, you need to restrict your movements. You only need to phone your GP if you think you have symptoms of coronavirus. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy, or hospital.
Restricted movement and self-isolation
These two terms have been a cause of confusion for a lot of people.
Restricted movement means avoiding contact with other people and social situations as much as possible. It is sometimes referred to as self-quarantine. This is for people who may not have the virus but have been in close contact with a confirmed case or are returning to Ireland from another country. This is an important step to stop the spread.
Self-isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people. You need to do this if you have symptoms of coronavirus. This is to stop other people from becoming infected. Self-isolation is for those who have symptoms, are waiting on test results, and have tested positive. Self-isolation can only stop when you have not had a fever for five days and it has been 14 days since your first symptoms.
If you live with others do not share dishes, towels, bed linen, or eating utensils and if you share a bathroom, clean it thoroughly after use.
It probably does not to be reiterated at this point but washing your hands is key to stopping the spread of the coronavirus. However, since you are religiously doing this, you probably have noticed your skin starting to hack. Remember to show some love to those hands by applying hand moisturiser.
Remember to also cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze, put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces as the virus can survive on surfaces for hours.
As Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday night; “We are in this together”; so it is with the utmost importance that we all take the necessary precautions as outlined by the HSE in combatting the spread of coronavirus in order to flatten the curve.