Since WHO announced COVID-19 as a public health emergency there has been growing panic, compounded by a circulation of unsubstantiated rumours and deliberate misinformation. As a doctor seeing and treating patients first-hand, I want to clarify our current understanding of this infection and advocate, as I always do, a prevention better than cure approach.
Summary of preventative measures:
- Regularly wash your hands (or use alcohol-based hand gel)
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes
- Maintain a distance (at least 1 metre) from people who are coughing or sneezing
- Follow good respiratory hygiene – catch it, kill it, bin it.
- Self isolate if you develop a fever or continuous cough
- Continue to look after your overall health, reducing stress, eating healthy and reducing toxins can all boost the immune system
- Regularly keep up with the latest guidelines by Public Health England
Firstly, coronaviruses are a group of viruses, named after their crown-like appearance, of which there are many strains including those that cause the common cold illness. However, the latest strain that has caused the pandemic is called COVID-19, a new type of coronavirus that is similar to the previous SARS virus.
When a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales, they release small droplets which land on objects and surfaces. The virus can spread from person to person if people touch infected surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. Thus regularly washing hands or using using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands and maintaining a one meter distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. While wearing a face mask can help prevent respiratory droplets from entering your mouth, it is still necessary to wash your hands before touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
If you’re unable to get a hold of a face mask, don’t panic, the virus is not known to be airborne and therefore you can still prevent transmission by washing your hands and maintaining a distance from anyone unwell with fever or continuous cough. Ensure you follow good respiratory hygiene which means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
While for many of us the virus may not cause any serious consequences, it is important we follow these preventative measures to limit the spread of this virus. A preventative approach should be applied during any outbreak, including for example the flu outbreak. The health of both our clients and our team members is our biggest priority. As such, our team at Hannah London will continue to follow the above preventative measures, the advice of Public Health England and the World Health Organisation.
Cleaning in our branches has been intensified, our staff continue to regularly sanitise their hands and will be providing our clients with hand towels and sanitising gel. Where appropriate our staff will wear surgical masks during treatment. Any of our team members who show even mild signs of flu-like symptoms have been advised to follow the government advice surrounding medical care and self-isolation and we are ensuring that team members are supported fully during this time.