A dedicated section has been created on the NHS Lanarkshire website to provide quick and easy access to the various information and guidance available to the public and healthcare professionals regarding the global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).
The new web page – available at www.nhslanarkshire.scot.nhs.uk/coronavirus – will act as a hub for key resources, links and information from official sources on the current outbreak. Updated regularly, it will include latest advice and details as directed by UK Government, Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland.
As previously reported, Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is supporting NHS Lanarkshire and other public bodies in promoting the national awareness-raising campaign to highlight access to information and advice in relation to coronavirus. This follows World Health Organisation declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on Thursday 30 January 2020.
NHS Lanarkshire has advised that, in line with health boards across the country, it is planning and preparing for potential cases of coronavirus within the Lanarkshire area, so that it will be ready to respond in the event of any confirmed cases.
Scotland confirmed its first case of coronavirus over the weekend, with the total number of confirmed cases in the UK now at 51 (as at Tuesday 3 March 2020). The Scottish patient diagnosed is a resident of the Tayside area, and is reported to be receiving isolated treatment in hospital. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon commented:
“Scotland is well-prepared for a significant outbreak of coronavirus but there is currently no treatment or vaccine. Early detection measures will continue to be vital in helping to prevent the spread of the virus.
“People have a vital role to play in helping us contain any outbreak by following the latest health and travel advice, and following basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.”
UK Government has signalled its intention to publish its action plan to tackle the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday 3 March 2020.
KEY INFORMATION ABOUT CORONAVIRUS AND ITS PREVENTION FOR CUMBERNAULD CITIZENS
What is Coronavirus?
Novel coronavirus (also named COVID-19) is a newly discovered illness that can affect your lungs and airways. An epidemic of the virus broke out in December 2019 in mainland China, and has since spread with cases now confirmed in 60 countries across five continents, raising concerns of a pandemic. At present, the worst-affected European country is Italy, which has over 1,600 confirmed cases.
Since coronavirus was only first discovered in the Chinese city of Wuhan three months ago, health professionals are still working to acquire a full understanding of the illness and its impact. As such, there is currently no vaccine for the condition.
The main symptoms of coronavirus are a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath. Like many viruses, there is no specific treatment for coronavirus. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the infection. The seriousness of the virus is not fully known as yet and won’t be until further data is gathered, with early indications highlighting that the mortality rate of the virus is about 2%.
It is not known at this stage exactly how the virus spreads from person to person, although it is recognised that similar viruses spread through cough droplets. It is believed that the spread is most likely to happen when there is close contact between an individual and an infected person (within two metres). The risk is likely increased the longer someone has close contact with an infected person. It is highly unlikely that coronavirus can be spread through packages from affected countries or through food.
How Can I Minimise My Risk of Contracting or Spreading Coronavirus?
The following general advice is provided by NHS inform to prevent the spread of germs and to minimise the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus:
Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze, and dispose of them in the nearest waste bin straight after use
Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth, especially if your hands are not clean
Wash your hands with soap and water often, and use alcohol hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available, especially after coughing or sneezing, going to the toilet and before eating and drinking
Avoid direct contact with people that have a respiratory illness and avoid using their personal items (such as mobile phones).
This advice is endorsed by Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood, supported by Scottish Government, NHS Scotland and Health Prevention Scotland.
Am I At Risk of Coronavirus and What Should I Do If So?
Those most at risk of contracting coronavirus are recognised as anyone who has been in close contact with someone confirmed with coronavirus, and a group of wider people classified as Category 1 risk and Category 2 risk individuals.
For those who have been in contact with someone confirmed with coronavirus, do not go to a GP surgery or a hospital. The advice given is to call NHS 24 on 111 as soon as possible, to stay indoors and avoid close contact with other people. It is important that you tell 111 about any recent travel and the symptoms you have.
If there’s a chance you could have coronavirus, you may be asked by the NHS 111 attendant to isolate yourself. This means that for 14 days you should stay at home, not go to work, school or public areas, not use public transport or taxis, ask friends and family members to carry out errands for you and try to avoid visitors at your home where possible.
Travellers who have returned from or travelled through a Category 1 risk area are asked to self-isolate at home for 14 days after return to the UK while asymptomatic. If symptoms develop, they are advised to immediately contact their GP remotely or NHS 24 on 111. Those who have returned from or travelled through a Category 2 risk area can go about their normal activities. If symptoms develop, they should immediately contact their GP remotely or NHS 24 on 111.
Category 1 risk areas (at the date of publishing article) are parts of China (Wuhan city and Hubei Province only), parts of South Korea (Daegu, Cheongdo), parts of Italy (various northern Italian towns in the region of Lombardy, including Bertonico, Casalpusterlengo, Castelgerundo, Castiglione D’Adda, Codogna (Lodi Province), Fombio, Maleo, San Fiorano, Somaglia and Terranova dei passerinie, and the town of Vo in the region of Veneto), and Iran.
Category 2 risk areas (at the date of publishing article) are Cambodia, China (all other areas not incorporated in Category 1, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), South Korea (all other areas not incorporated in Category 1), parts of Italy (all areas in north Italy defined by a line above and not including Pisa, Florence and Rimini which are not included in Category 1), Cambodia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
How Should Educational Establishments Handle the Outbreak?
Health Protection Scotland has recently published a document entitled COVID-19: Guidance to Educational Settings to assist schools, early learning and childcare settings and other educational settings in providing advice for children, pupils, students, staff and parents or carers regarding coronavirus.
The key principles outlined involve identifying potential cases as soon as possible, preventing potential transmission of infection to other students and staff, avoiding all direct physical contact, isolating any patients and obtaining relevant advice from the GP or NHS 24 (on 111).
Will My Travel Plans Be Affected?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK Government) is currently advising against all travel to Hubei Province in China, and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China. It has also advised against all but essential travel to the cities of Daegu and Cheongdo in South Korea, and ten small towns in the Lombardy region and one in the Veneto region of Italy (see Category 1 risk areas above for full list of towns).
As of Monday 2 March 2020, there is no other advice against travelling to any other country or territory as a result of coronavirus.
Some airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, have suspended flights to and from China, or revised their schedules. Other flights in the region may also be affected. If you’re due to travel on an affected route, keep up to date with the latest information from your travel company or airline.
Further general information about the virus and advice for foreign travellers is available and regularly updated on the UK Government website.
To keep informed and advised in relation to the coronavirus outbreak and its prevention, please visit the NHS Lanarkshire coronavirus web page, which is updated on a daily basis to reflect latest information.
Cumbernauld Community Health Information Hub is encouraging local citizens and organisations to do all they can to share official messages about coronavirus through their available social media channels, using #coronavirus and #COVID19.
This can be done through sharing the web link with your family, friends and colleagues, as well as following, liking and retweeting posts from NHS Lanarkshire Twitter and Facebook accounts. Posts from NHS 24 Twitter and Facebook accounts can also be retweeted and shared.