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Coronaviruses are viruses that cause illnesses, such as severe respiratory syndrome (SARS), Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the common cold. In 2019, a new strain of coronavirus evolved and was identified as the cause of a disease outbreak in Wuhan, China.

This virus, known as the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), also called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has affected millions of people. In March 2020, WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

Although health organisations and experts do not fully understand the virus, different bodies like the WHO has been monitoring the pandemic and have issued recommendations for treating and preventing the disease.

COVID-19 symptoms

The symptoms of COVID-19 usually appear within 2 – 14 days following exposure to the virus. The period between exposure and when the symptoms show is called the incubation period. The common COVID-19 symptoms include:

  • Tiredness
  • Cough
  • Fever

Early symptoms may also include loss of smell and taste.

Other symptoms that may occur include but not limited to:

  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Rash
  • Diarrhoea
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Children show similar symptoms but experience a milder illness.

COVID-19 symptoms range from mild to severe. Some people have a few symptoms, and some do not show any symptoms, but others experience worsened symptoms like pneumonia and shortness of breath.

Older people have a higher risk of experiencing severe COCID-19 symptoms. Those with underlying health issues also have a higher risk of a serious illness. The following conditions increase the risk of serious illness following a COVID-19 infection.

  • Type I and II diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Down syndrome
  • Substance use disorder
  • Nervous system condition
  • Weakened immune system from an organ transplant, HIV, bone marrow transplant and certain medication
  • Asthma
  • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Dementia
  • Brain and nervous system conditions
  • Chronic lung diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis or cystic fibrosis
  • Serious heart conditions, such as cardiomyopathy or coronary artery disease

When you need to see a doctor

If you experience COVID-19 symptoms or had contact with an infected person, contact your doctor immediately for advice. Ensure you inform the doctor about your symptoms and exposure before you schedule an appointment.

If you experience any of the following emergency COVID-19 symptoms, seek medical care immediately and get a private Covid-19 test.

  • Inability to stay awake
  • Trouble breathing
  • New confusion
  • Grey, pale or blue-coloured nail beds, lips or skin

The list above is not a comprehensive one, but ensure you inform your doctor if you are an older adult or have a chronic medical condition.

Causes of COVID-19

The SARS-CoV-2 infection causes COVID-19. This virus spreads easily through different means, and experts are still discovering how it spreads.

Available data has shown that the virus spreads through close contact with an infected person, usually within six feet or two meters, by respiratory droplets recovered when the person sneezes, talks, breathes, or coughs. Other people can inhale these droplets, or the droplets can touch the eyes, nose or mouth of a close person.

Sometimes, the virus can spread when someone comes in contact with aerosols or small droplets in the air for hours or even minutes. This transmission mode is known as airborne transmission, but experts do not know how common it is for airborne transmission of the virus to occur.

The COVID-19 virus also spreads if someone touches an infected object or surface, then touches their nose, mouth, or eyes, but the risk of infection through this means is low.Reinfections have occurred, but this is not common.

Risk factors

The risk factors for getting infected with the COVID-19 virus include:

  • Being in close contact with an infected person
  • Being sneezed or coughed on by someone infected with the virus

Complications

Some people infected with COVID-19 experience mild to moderate symptoms, but the virus can cause severe medical complications and death in some people, especially those with underlying medical conditions and older persons.

Common complications from COVID-19 infection include:

  • Organ failure
  • Blood clots
  • Heart problems
  • Trouble breathing and pneumonia
  • Acute kidney injury
  • Additional bacterial and viral infections
  • A severe lung condition, leading to a low amount of oxygen in the organs or bloodstream

Prevention

Vaccines are now available to help prevent COVID-19 infections or make the infection less severe. However, you can take other steps to reduce the risk of getting infected.

The following preventive measures can help minimise your exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

  • Avoid indoor places and crowds with little or no ventilation
  • Avoid close contact (within two metres or six feet) from a sick person or anyone with symptoms
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly using water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds,or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your face, including your nose, eyes and mouth
  • Disinfect and clean frequently touched surfaces such as light switches and doorknobs
  • If you feel sick, stay at home and avoid public places
  • Avoid sharing towels, beddings, dishes and other household items if you feel sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when you sneeze or cough, then dispose of the tissue properly and wash your hands immediately
  • Wear a face mask in public places when you can’t avoid close contact with people

You can also contact your doctor about how you can protect yourself and others if you have a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection.

If you feel unwell or experience any COVID-19 symptoms, ensure you arrange for a COVID-19 test. You can get a private Covid-19 test in London at PCR Test London. Call us now on 020 31376952 to get your COVID-19 test.

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