Welcome to the COVID-19 information page. This page was created to dispel the myths circulating on social media. We will provide honest and researched answers to any questions you have. All of our answers are from qualified doctors. We have included their name to give you full transparency and reassurance.

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  • General

  • How is Covid spread

    "People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching 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. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the ways COVID-19 is spread and will continue to share updated findings."

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

    https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses (last accessed 2o April 2020)

  • Once I have had COVID am I then immune?

    Once I have COVID, am I Immune? This is the million, in fact probably multi-billion, dollar question of the moment. And the short answer is, we don’t know. There simply has not been long enough to follow up patients who have recovered from the disease to establish this, but here is what we do know. The ability for the body to mount a consistent immune response is dependent on two factors: sustained production of neutralising antibodies and the virus not mutating to evade this immune response. Some scientists have extrapolated theories by looking at studies into other members of the coronavirus family, such as SARS-CoV (the virus responsible for SARS) and MERS-CoV, which have found neutralizing antibody responses and a high likelihood of immunity in patients up to two years after infection (1). But it is too early to know if this is the case for COVID 19. One study in Nature found neutralising antibodies in four macaques two weeks after exposure to the virus, a study of course limited by its sample population, size and follow up time (2). Currently we do not have a scientific consensus on an effective antibody test for SARS-CoV-2 and certainly not enough follow up time to see how long that antibody response may last. Like any other virus, SARS-CoV-2 will randomly change or ‘mutate’ its genetic material whilst replicating. Whilst this happens, there is a chance that it will be able to improve its ability to evade the immune response, even after someone has created neutralising antibodies. This would also limit the efficacy of any vaccine that may be developed. So far, no such mutation has been found and SARS-CoV-2 does not appear to mutate quickly, but this remains a possibility and is being carefully monitored (3). Some cases have been reported of COVID-19 reinfection, raising concerns about a lack of immunity following primary infection, but these are equally questionable. Most of these are reported from early cases in Japan and South Korea, when the antigen tests were less reliable, and could have had falsely reassuring negative tests when they were still infected.

    Dr Silas Webb Show references

    1. http://apjai-journal.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/1.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1kVlFnoc6mobqEy7FDz_93fX__AaY8ZgE4TUwtjzhh8oVqgs82rgf3QoU 2. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41577-020-0316-3 3. https://coronavirusexplained.ukri.org/en/article/cad0005/

  • If I have high blood pressure (hypertension), lung disease, cancer or diabetes, but they are well controlled, am I still at a higher risk with COVID?

    "While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others." This statement is from the WHO's website and implies that irrespective of how well controlled your disease is, you must take every precaution to remain protected as you might be at higher risk of a more severe COVID infection.

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

    https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

  • Why can two families who have no symptoms and have been in isolation for 2 weeks not interact with each other

    Our current understanding on the pathogenicity and spread of COVID-19 is still scarce. Individuals show an extremely variable spectrum of clinical manifestations depending on age, gender, ethnicity and co-morbidities. Not all people who have the coronavirus will therefore be symptomatic. A member of family may have contracted the virus before beginning their isolation, meaning that they may unknowingly be carrying it and could therefore spread it to other households if meeting up with another family. It is speculated that even after two weeks of isolation, susceptible individuals with or without symptoms can have a small amount of viral load still detectable in their system. Assuming that this hypothesis is true, this can still cause spread of the disease. The government advice is that you may go outside again after 14 days of isolation, but until further evidence emerges, it is advisable for people to still maintain social distancing and refrain from meeting up with other families in the current climate, even if they have been in isolation.

    Dr Argha Datta Show references

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

  • How do facemasks protect us and should we wear them at all times

    There are many different types of facemasks, each with varying effect on preventing COVID from entering your lungs. The WHO state: "Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. A disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely. WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and misuse of masks (see Advice on the use of masks - in the reference link below). The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. "See basic protective measures against the new coronavirus for more information" - the link to this is given in the reference below

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

    https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

  • Should I be wearing gloves when I leave the house

    There is no need to wear gloves when you leave the house. COVID-19 can live on your gloves the same way as it can live on your skin. You must ensure that you wash your hands regularly, and avoid touching your face, as this is a far more effective way of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. Please see the youtube clip below on how to wash your hands, from the National Health Service.

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

  • What groups are considered high risk for COVID

    The World Health Organisations state: "While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others."

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

    https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

  • What medical conditions put you at high risk for COVID

    The World Health Organisation state: "While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others. "

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

    https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

  • There are a number of breathing techniques circulating online, are any of these beneficial against COVID

    Breathing techniques will not protect you from the coronavirus. Only washing your hands and socially distancing will. Please see the video below from the National Health Service on how to wash your hands properly.

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ij1I0OB2hk

  • Can I contract COVID be receiving a delivery such as a takeaway or mail

    Theoretically, this is possible as COVID can survive on surfaces, however the World Health Organisation state this: "[It is safe to receive a package from an area where COVID has been reported]. The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, travelled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low. " They also state: " It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. "

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

    https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

  • How should I remove gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment

    Please note that the WHO state: "Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. A disposable face mask can only be used once. If you are not ill or looking after someone who is ill then you are wasting a mask. There is a world-wide shortage of masks, so WHO urges people to use masks wisely. WHO advises rational use of medical masks to avoid unnecessary wastage of precious resources and misuse of masks (see Advice on the use of masks - in the reference link below). The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing. "See basic protective measures against the new coronavirus for more information" - the link to this is given in the reference below. FOR YOUR INTEREST, or if you are a trained healthcare worker, please see the video from Public Health England.

    Dr Kevin Dodd Show references

    https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks Public health england Youtube video - removing PPE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUo5O1JmLH0

  • What are the symptoms of COVID and how they differ to the cold or flu

    In most mild to moderate cases of Covid-19, people will experience respiratory symptoms which include cough, breathlessness, fatigue and fever. Therefore it can appear similar to the cold or influenza (viral infections which also affect the respiratory system). However, during this pandemic, there have been a number of cases where people infected with coronavirus have also experienced other symptoms including sore throat, loss of taste or smell, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting and headaches. If patients become severely unwell, they can also experience symptoms related to complications of the disease. For example chest pain, difficulty breathing and confusion. Or skins rashes, which have been seen in children who develop Covid-19 linked child inflammatory syndrome. Overall, it is difficult to distinguish Covid-19 from the cold or flu. So anyone with respiratory symptoms should assume they have Covid-19, remain in isolation and seek urgent medical advice if they are not improving or are worsening.

    Dr Adonna Francis Show references

    1.https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html?deliveryName=USCDC_7_3-DM27152 2.Guo, Y., Cao, Q., Hong, Z. et al. The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak – an update on the status. Military Med Res 7, 11 (2020). 3. Baig AM. Neurological manifestations in COVID-19 caused by SARS-CoV-2. CNS Neurosci Ther. 2020;26(5):499‐501 4. https://www.gponline.com/gps-advised-spot-possible-covid-19-linked-child-inflammatory-syndrome/article/1682146 5.Pan L, Mu M, Yang P, et al. Clinical Characteristics of COVID-19 Patients With Digestive Symptoms in Hubei, China: A Descriptive, Cross-Sectional, Multicenter Study. Am J Gastroenterol. 2020;115(5):766‐773.

  • Can mosquitoes transmit covid?

    The WHO reiterates that "to date there has been no information nor evidence to suggest that the new coronavirus could be transmitted by mosquitoes". "COVID-19 primarily spreads through the respiratory tract, by droplets, respiratory secretions, and direct contact". In some severe cases, the virus has been present in stool swabs and blood samples. Consequently, there is a theoretical (on paper) risk that mosquitos could ingest infected blood and then act as vectors of the disease. However this has not been shown in cases of Covid 19 so far.

    Dr Adonna Francis Show references

    1. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters 2. Guo, Y., Cao, Q., Hong, Z. et al. The origin, transmission and clinical therapies on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak – an update on the status. Military Med Res 7, 11 (2020).

  • Am I at a higher risk for COVID if I have had the flu vaccination

    The flu vaccine does not put a person at higher risk of getting infected with coronavirus. Only factors that increase a person’s exposure to the virus would do this. For example a healthcare professional who works on a Covid ward would be at increased risk. Or a person who ignores social distancing rules would put themselves at increased risk of exposure to the virus. Also, the vaccine does not lower a person’s overall immune system. So it is not considered an additional risk factor that would make patients experience more severe forms of Covid 19. Conversely, patients on certain immunosuppressant medication or with pre-existing conditions (such as diabetes or hypertension) are potentially at increased risk of severe disease if infected with the virus.

    Dr Adonna Francis Show references

    Jordan Rachel E, Adab Peymane, Cheng K K. Covid-19: risk factors for severe disease and death BMJ 2020; 368 2.https://www.who.int/influenza/spotlight/5-myths-about-the-flu-vaccine

  • Treatments

  • Can I take NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Difene, Aspirin ) if am suspected to have coronovirus?

    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a class of medications typically used to treat pain, fever and inflammation. The French Ministry issued guidance to avoid NSAIDS after 4 patients with no medical conditions developed a serious COVID infection after taking NSAID. Following this announcement, the MHRA and WHO recommend against using NSAIDs. However, there is no evidence from the published scientific literature that using NSAIDs increases the risk of developing COVID-19, or of having a worsening illness if you already have COVID-19. There is evidence however that using NSAIDs, generally, can mask the symptoms of a worsening lung infection (such as a fever), which could mean you only seek medical help late. More evidence is needed to determine if this also applies to COVID-19. As with all medications, the advice is if you are to use NSAID, to use it at the minimal needed dose. Other medications exist that can also help with pain and fever, such as paracetamol. If you are using NSAIDs for a long term condition, this needs to be periodically reviewed by your doctor to ensure you still need to use it. If you would like more details, please read the full report from NHS England via the reference provided below.

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

    https://www.england.nhs.uk/coronavirus/publication/acute-use-of-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-drugs/ (last accessed 20th April 2020)

  • Also is there a difference in symptoms between those that have BCG and those that don't?

    According to the World Health Orgnisation on the 12th of April - "There is no evidence that the Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) protects people against infection with COVID-19 virus." This link was hypothesised by observational data which found lower numbers of cases and mortality rates in some countries which give the BCG vaccine in childhood. A huge number of social, economic and genetic factors could have contributed to this unrelated to the BCG vaccine, these are known as confounding variables. There are two randomised, controlled trials (the gold standard study design) - one in Australia and the other in the Netherlands - are being carried out to examine the effects of BCG vaccination on protection against COVID-19 among healthcare workers. RCTs will reduce the significant amount of confounding that is apparent in the original cross-sectional studies which hypothesised the link. "In the absence of evidence, WHO does not recommend BCG vaccination for the prevention of COVID-19. WHO continues to recommend neonatal BCG vaccination in countries or settings with a high incidence of tuberculosis."

    Dr Silas Webb Show references

    https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/bacille-calmette-gu%C3%A9rin-(bcg)-vaccination-and-covid-19 https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/doctor-note-coronavirus-tuberculosis-vaccine-200421084403521.html

  • Is the flu vaccine effective against COVID

    Although Covid 19 causes flu-like symptoms, the seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine cannot protect people directly against Covid. The flu vaccine contains inactivated flu viruses and when it is injected it causes the body’s immune system to create antibodies that specifically fight against strains of influenza. The immune system can then reproduce these specific antibodies to help fight against an influenza infection, if a person is later exposed to flu. In order for a vaccine to be effective against Covid, it must cause the body’s immune system to specifically act against SARS-CoV-2, which is the current coronavirus causing today’s pandemic. Numerous Covid vaccines are currently under development as potential solutions. However the Flu vaccine is still helpful. By preventing people becoming severely unwell with flu, the flu vaccine helps reduce the burden placed on hospitals and allows scarce resources to be allocated towards helping patients with Covid recover.

    Dr Adonna Francis Show references

    1. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/hcp/conversations/understanding-vacc-work.html 2. Chen, W., Strych, U., Hotez, P.J. et al. The SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine Pipeline: an Overview. Curr Trop Med Rep (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40475-020-00201-6 3. Yang Y, Peng F, Wang R, et al. The deadly coronaviruses: The 2003 SARS pandemic and the 2020 novel coronavirus epidemic in China. J Autoimmun. 2020;109:102434. doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2020.102434

  • Was President Trump correct in saying that ingesting disinfectant could cure you of the virus?

    No. The manufacturers of the disinfectants state that ingestion of these products could kill you.

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

  • Immunity

  • Why do seemingly healthy people with no underlying health conditions get so unwell

    As with most aspects of COVID 19 we do not fully know, we will need more time and tests to find out. COVID 19 however, is not the only disease that has these "quirks" of young fit people getting more severe illness. It has lead to the term "The infection Enigma". That being said we have a few theories. The first being that it is simply a genetic flaw, one or more genes may be missing from individuals that help fight against COVID, but would be OK against other diseases such as flu. This is not to be confused with people who are born with inherent low immunity. These individuals have a high risk for having severe cases of all types of infection. The patient with the genetic flaw that gets very bad COVID may only get mild flu or head colds. The second reason may be the amount of exposure we get to the virus when we first come in contact with it. If for example healthcare workers are working in close proximity to very unwell patients they may be exposed to a large amount of virus particles and may then develop a more severe infection. This may be the reason for health care workers being disproportionately affected by this virus. It is important to note that although young fit people do get infected these still only count for a small proportion of those getting severe illness

    Dr Kevin Dodd Show references

    doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0718-24 https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2020/4/8/21207269/covid-19-coronavirus-risk-factors

  • Can the BCG help protect against COVID and are people who have had it less likely to get COVID

    Some researchers have questioned whether the BCG vaccine has somehow reduced the incidence of Covid in certain countries. They have noticed that in some countries where there is a national programme for BCG vaccination, that there have been fewer reported cases of Covid 19. However this research has yet to be sufficiently evaluated, and could reflect alternative reasons for why some countries appear to have fewer cases than others. The WHO advises that "there is no evidence that the Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) protects people against infection with COVID-19 virus", and advises that "two clinical trials addressing this question are underway, and WHO will evaluate the evidence when it is available". So currently it is safest to assume that even if a person has had the BCG vaccine, they are still at risk of being affected by Covid after exposure to the virus.

    Dr Adonna Francis Show references

    1. https://www.bmj.com/content/368/bmj.m1252/rr-4 2. https://www.who.int/news-room/commentaries/detail/bacille-calmette-guérin-(bcg)-vaccination-and-covid-19

  • Physiology

  • Can Corona virus survive on surfaces such as walls, steel polls, cardboard packaging etc.

    Yes. But not forever. Corona virus can survive on different surfaces but there are many factors influencing how long it survives for. These factors include the type of surface, the environmental conditions and the concentration of virus particles deposited. Corona virus is believed to mainly spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. When an infected person coughs or sneezes they release respiratory droplets which contain the virus. These virus-containing droplets can then land on different surfaces and survive. How long the virus survives for is not fully known yet and also depends on many environmental factors such as temperature, pH, humidity and ventilation. In extreme environmental conditions such as high temperatures and high acidic/alkaline conditions the virus does not survive for a longtime. For example the virus is very stable at low temperatures such as 4°C, but destroyed within minutes at high temperatures such as 70°C. It also depends on what type of surface the droplets fall. The virus survives on different surfaces for different periods of time and it is not established for how long. It is most stable on smooth surfaces and survives longest on stainless steel and plastic. One study showed that in laboratory settings the virus can survive on plastic and stainless steel for 2-3 days, on cardboard for 24hours and on copper for 4 hours. Another study showed it can survive for up to 9 days on plastic. How long it survives on these surfaces outside in the real world will depend on the environmental factors mentioned. The virus survival period will also depend on the concentration of virus particles in the droplet (viral load). The higher the concentration of virus particles in the droplets the more likely that some will survive for as long as possible on that surface. So yes, corona virus can survive on a lamp post or wall or cardboard box if an infected person releases respiratory droplets onto that surface. You risk getting infected if you touch a virus contaminated surface with your hands and then touch your face. THis is because the virus can then enter your body through your mucous membranes which are in your mouth and eyes. With this in mind it is important to avoid touching your face with your hands to prevent this potential transfer of virus. Also washing your hands regularly with soap and water will kill any potential virus on your hands.

    Dr Steven Isherwood Show references

    https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/study-suggests-new-coronavirus-may-remain-surfaces-days https://www.thelancet.com/action/showPdf?pii=S2666-5247%2820%2930003-3 https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973 https://www.journalofhospitalinfection.com/action/showPdf?pii=S0195-6701%2820%2930046-3

  • Once someone coughs in an enclosed space, how long do those infected particles stay in the air?

    This is not yet known. When an infected person coughs or sneezes they release tiny droplets (<5 micrometers) called aerosols into the air which can contain the coronavirus. It is not yet clear how long these aerosols can survive for. In one study these aerosols remained for more than 3 hours, although viral concentration did decrease. However it is important to point out that in this study the aerosols were generated artificially through a device called a nebuliser and not from an infected person coughing or sneezing. As such we can not say for certain that the study findings represent what would happen outside of a laboratory in the real world. The true survival time may be more or less.

    Dr Steven Isherwood Show references

    Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1 https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973

  • Was COVID man-made, to control the world's population numbers?

    There have been many conspiracy theories, and this being one of them. However, the evidence from the genomic analysis is quite clear that this was the construct of natural development and natural selection. The evidence is also strong that this was not made-made (to disappoint the conspiracy theorists). Please see the reference below if you are interested in the science behind this. Published in 'Nature Medicine'.

    Dr Deeban Ratneswaran Show references

    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0820-9

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