Whether or not we have suffered from the coronavirus directly, all our lives will now be touched by its consequences. The latest guidance from the Department for Health is that if you believe you have the symptoms of the coronavirus, which are a high temperature where you feel hot to touch on your back or chest, and a new continuous cough, then you should self-isolate for seven days from the onset.
If someone in your home is suffering from the virus, it is also highly likely that you will receive it as well. Therefore, for people who live with others, they are now being asked to self-isolate for fourteen days from the moment the first person in their household shows symptoms of having been affected by the virus. For most people who contract the coronavirus it will be a mild to moderate condition that will pass in seven days. If you are staying at home, then you do not need to contact the NHS 111 service to tell them, nor do you need to go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
The people who could be most vulnerable to the coronavirus are aged 70 or over, have a pre-existing long-term medical condition, and are pregnant or have a weakened immune system. If you are in one of these categories then the NHS will contact you from next Monday, 23rd March, and you’ll be given specific advice about what to do. You do not need to contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage, please wait to be contacted. The best way to avoid contracting the coronavirus is to avoid unnecessary social contact, and if possible to work from home. People in our community, and particularly the most vulnerable, may also need help from friends and neighbours with collections of food and medicine supplies.
This week the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock also advised everyone, whether or not they show symptoms for the virus, to avoid social contact in pubs, cafes, cinemas and other public meeting places. We cannot yet say for how long this guidance will be in place, but it is there to try and slow down the spreading of the virus, so that the NHS can effectively handle the cases of those worst affected when they need treatment. This policy is right in terms of protecting public health, but it will also have severe consequences for many local businesses, particularly in a district like ours where jobs in tourism and hospitality are so important. I raised my concerns in the House of Commons on Monday that more needs to be done to provide immediate support for businesses that are affected by these measures. We are expecting further annoucements from the government on this later this week.
The Government is also looking to acquire more ventilators for the NHS. In the worst cases the coronavirus can affect people’s lungs and help with breathing will be required for the most severe sufferers. Whilst the NHS has been buying up additional ventilators for the past few weeks, it is also interested in talking to UK businesses who could adapt their existing production facilities to manufacture ventilators. If you would be interested in this, you can contact the Department for Business’s support helpline on 0300 456 3565.