Hazelhill, Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo.

Coronavirus – The Facts

At this time, a lot of patients understandably have general questions regarding Coronavirus/ COVID-19.

To help provide a little contextual information about this pandemic, we thought it would be useful to set out some of the known facts on the coronavirus.

The HSE also maintains a section on their website devoted to the coronavirus/ COVID-19, which you can access here>>> 

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses, many of which have been around for a long time. In humans, they usually cause mild illnesses, such as the common cold.

There are at least two other forms of coronavirus which can cause severe illness in humans, SARS and MERS.

The current pandemic is the result of a new strain of the coronavirus which appears to have first emerged in Wuhan, China in late 2019.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) gave this virus the official name of SARS-CoV-2.

The illness associated with this virus is called COVID-19.

How the Coronavirus Spreads

Coronavirus is a highly contagious infection which is spread in sneeze and cough droplets.

You could contract the virus if you:

  • Come into contact with an infected person who is coughing or sneezing. This could mean spending more than 15 minutes face-to-face contact within 2 metres of the person.
  • Touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on and bring unwashed hands to your eyes, mouth or nose.

The virus may survive for different lengths of time on different materials. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus can be detectable for up to 3 hours in aerosols, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2 or 3 days on plastic and stainless steel.

This means the virus can be picked up through the air or after touching contaminated objects.

Symptoms of Coronavirus

It can take up to 14 days for the symptoms of COVID-19 to appear and they are similar to those of cold and flu.

According to the HSE, the symptoms include:

  • High fever (38 degrees Celsius or above).
  • A cough (any kind of cough, doesn’t necessarily have to be dry).
  • Shortness of breath or breathing difficulties.

Testing for COVID19

If you have symptoms, call your GP first.

There are now protocols in place for testing, which are continuing to evolve.

Hazelhill Family Practice is maintaining an up to date page on our website outlining what these testing protocols involve. You can view that page by clicking here>>>

Prognosis

80% of the people infected with the virus will experience a mild illness and will recover within a few weeks.

14% experience a more severe illness

6% of cases experience critical illness.

Treatment

Anyone who is experiencing symptoms should contact their GP. At Hazelhill Family Practice we will discuss their condition and recommend a course of action. If they meet the various HSE protocols, they will then be referred for testing.

Anyone who thinks they are suffering from the virus should take the following steps:

– Self-isolate for 14 days from when you first noticed the symptoms.
– Rest and sleep.
– Keep hydrated.
– Eat healthy.
– Do not smoke.
– Keep warm.

If your symptoms get worsen or if you belong to an at-risk group, it is essential that you contact your GP for further advice.

At-risk groups

There are some people who are more susceptible to a serious illness if they have the virus.

The HSE’s protocols for ‘at risk’ groups continue to evolve, but at the time of writing they consist of:

  • People over 60 years of age.
  • Those on immunosuppressive medication.
  • Anyone with any of the following conditions:
      • Diabetes
      • High blood pressure (hypertension)
      • Obesity (BMI over 30)
      • Cancer within the last 5 years.
      • Chronic lung disease
      • Liver disease (chronic)
      • Chronic renal disease
      • Ischaemic heart disease
      • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Residents of nursing homes or long stay settings
  • Those in specialist disability care who are 50 years old and over or who have underlying health problems.

Precautions

Given how infectious coronavirus is, some of the best practice to avoid contagion is as follows:

  • Stay at home and only go out for essential reasons.
  • Practice social distancing, ie keep a space of 2 metres or more between you and other people. Don’t shake hands or make close contact with others.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
  • Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you show symptoms do not go out for a period of 14 days.

If you need to discuss any coronavirus/ COVID-19 related symptoms, please contact Hazelhill Family Practice by clicking here, emailing hello@hazelhillfamilypractice.com or by calling 094 9630091/ 094 9632170.

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