Corona viruses are a type of virus. The one we’re all talking about is new and it causes a disease called Covid-19. Most people will only be mildly affected by it but it can kill. It starts by infecting our upper respiratory tracts which are the airways from your nose to just above your vocal cords. You may develop a fever, as your immune system starts to fight the virus, and a dry cough. That’s one where you don’t produce any phlegm. The virus can then spread to the lungs making it harder for people to breath and it can cause pneumonia. In the most serious cases people can die from the coronavirus. This is because the immune system can go into overdrive and that can lead to organ failure. In Titchmarsh we need to do what we can to stop this virus from spreading. As it gets into your body by: breathing it in or through your eyes, nose and mouth, the best thing to do is wash your hands regularly and properly for at least 20 seconds, catch your colds and sneezes in a tissue and avoid touching your face.

Coronavirus information: What should I do?

Public health experts have been giving out lots of advice to try to stop the spread of the virus.

How can I try to stay well?

  • Wash hands for about 20 seconds with soap and hot water or use a sanitiser gel.
  • Use a tissue for coughs and sneezes.
  • If you don’t have a tissue use your sleeve or sneeze into your elbow.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

What are the symptoms – and what should I do if I feel unwell?

  • Fever and tiredness – sore throat – breathing difficulties – continuous coughs
  • If you have a new continuous cough or high temperature you should stay at home for seven days.
  • Stay at least three steps away from other people in your home if possible.
  • If your symptoms are no better after seven days seek medical advice.
  • Go online to Do NOT go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital.
  • Call a neighbour or email the Support @ Titchmarsh (S@T) group.
  • Even if you are young or healthy you can pass on the virus to someone else very easily.

For an update please check the Public Health England online.

Social distancing or self-isolation?

Everybody in the UK has been asked to stop non-essential contact with other people and avoid all unnecessary travel. This is known as social distancing. It follows people with flu-like symptoms being asked to self-isolate at home, to avoid infecting others.

Social distancing means trying to avoid contact with other people.

It means spending less time in public places, where a lot of people are around.

At the time of writing (18 March 2020) the government wants:

  • People to start working from home wherever possible
  • All unnecessary travel stopped
  • Avoid crowded venues
  • Anyone living with someone who has a cough or a temperature to stay at home for 14 days

Self-isolating means cutting yourself off from the rest of the world.

From now on, if one person in a household starts to display flu-like symptoms – defined as a fever of above 37.8C or a persistent cough – everyone living there must stay at home for 14 days.

He said that meant avoiding leaving the house “even to buy food or essentials”, adding people could go out to do exercise, but only at a safe distance from others.

How to self-isolate

  • Stay Home: If you are told to self-isolate that means staying at home. Not going to work, school or other public spaces. You shouldn’t have any visitors.
  • Call ahead: If you develop symptoms – a fever or cough – then seek advice first by phone. Don’t just turn up at your doctors or hospital.
  • Separate yourself: If you live with others then you need to stay in a well-ventilated bedroom with the door shut. If you have to share a bathroom, then use it after everyone else. Don’t share towels and toiletries.
  • Order in: If you live on your own you can order shopping from the Titchmarsh Village Shop and they will arrange to have it delivered. They will leave it in a safe place or on your doorstep.
  • Why it’s important: The coronavirus causes a mild flu-like illness for four out of five people. Self-isolating will help protect older people and those with underlying health problems from getting infected

Face Masks

People wear face masks because they think it’s going to protect them from the virus. But the virus isn’t floating around in the air. The virus is transmitted from person to person by contact – generally through the hands. It gets into our bodies by us touching our eyes, nose and mouth – or if we’re inhaling droplets directly from someone who is sneezing or coughing.

For most people, the only way a face mask stops you getting infected is by preventing you from touching your own nose or mouth. The world Health Organisation (WHO) says most people don’t need face masks unless they’re sick or taking care of a person with a suspected coronavirus infection.

Soap or Gel

Viruses can be active outside the body for hours, even days. Disinfectants, liquids, wipes, gels and creams containing alcohol are all useful at getting rid of them – but they are not quite as good as normal soap.

When you cough or sneeze, tiny droplets can fly up to 10 metres. The larger ones are thought to be the main coronavirus carriers and they can go about two metres. These droplets land on surfaces and often dry out quickly. But the viruses remain active. Human skin is an ideal surface for a virus. When you touch a surface with a virus particle on it, it will stick to your skin and hence get transferred on to your hands. If you then touch your face, especially your eyes, nose or mouth, you can get infected. Most people touch their face at least once every five minutes!

Soap contains substances which loosen the “glue” between the virus and the skin. Soap also helps to break down the structure of the virus – making it fall apart – essentially killing it off.

Alcohol-based gel products contain a high percentage of ethanol which also help kill off the virus. However, unlike soap, you have to soak your hands in the gel before the ethanol can do its work.

Soap is better because you only need a small amount of soapy water, which, with rubbing, covers your entire hands more easily.