With Dr Lamah El-Sharkawi and Reem El-Sharkawi - part of the Bay Cluster Network

This month we focus on the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic that has spread worldwide. The World Health Organisation defines a pandemic as ‘the worldwide spread of disease’. Much is still unknown about the virus but in this article we aim to give general advice on how to protect yourself and others around you.

Coronavirus outbreak

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new virus that was discovered in China in December 2019.

How does it spread?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person.

This is thought to occur between people who are in close contact with one another. It spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person for example by coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

It can be spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects.

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The main current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included at least one of the following symptoms;

  • A high temperature
  • A new continuous cough ie. coughing a lot for over an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

What can you do to help yourself?

Clean your hands often – Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

– Hand sanitisers may also be used. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

– Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact – Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

– Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community.  This is very important for the more vulnerable groups of people.

Cover coughs and sneezes

– Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when  you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.

– Throw used tissues in the bin.

– Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

– Clean and disinfect regularly touched surfaces in the home

Managing stress and anxiety

The outbreak of COVID-19 has proven to be a very stressful time for many people.

Things you can do to support yourself

– Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

– Take care of your body. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.

– Try to do some activities you enjoy and enjoy the coastline and the area that we live in by doing some walking and jogging.

– Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Look after yourselves, and remember if you display any symptoms of COVID 19 including:_ 

– a high temperature

– a new continuous cough

– loss of taste or smell

It is important NOT to attend your GP surgery or local pharmacy.

You can check your symptoms on

If your symptoms are worsening or you have any concerns, please contact your GP surgery or call 111 if your surgery is closed.

With regards to duration of self-isolation, please check the most up to date guidance on the NHS website as these are continuously being updated.

This article was correct on 14/6/2020.

 Please check the NHS website for the most up to date information. 



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