We are revising our main posting on Coronavirus as the situation changes, and as we get new advice from medical professionals: please read that first.
But much of what we wrote earlier is still very relevant.
Here are the previous versions of our advice. Please be aware that some of the information will have been overtaken by events, and in other cases, advice may have changed – so where there is an overlap between information here, and information on our current page, please use the information there.
Information updated on 5th March 2020
Current Vasculitis UK Advice …
… for those high risk individuals who are immune suppressed, or with serious co-morbdities (eg. kidney or lung damage, diabetes &/or elderly/old) – remember: good hand hygiene is essential, and smoking greatly increases the risk of being affected seriously if you do contract the disease.
In light of potential community spread, we should start looking at taking a more proactive way to protect ourselves. Current evidence from Public Health England suggests that the virus can be transmitted when a person is within 2 metres of an infected individual for more than 15 minutes. This suggests that care of an infected person and fomite transmission (transmission of the virus from an object to a person) may be primary drivers of the spread. Therefore, it is highly recommended you continue to practice good hand hygiene and avoid touching your face. Try to actively think in your head ‘right I have now touched something that may have been touched by an infected person, I cannot touch my face until I have washed my hands’.
We should begin social distancing from people who are or may be infected. Therefore, avoid contact with people displaying the following symptoms:
- evidence of high temperature (profuse sweating)
- shortness of breath
- nasal symptoms.
As current evidence suggests that you need to be within 2 metres of an infected person for 15 minutes to contract the virus, we should look at what we do on a daily/weekly basis to limit the chances of this occurring by trying to limit non-essential contact with others.
I fully understand that we are not all fully abled, but think: ‘can I walk home instead of taking the bus?’ or ‘can my partner pick me up instead of taking the train?’. If you can choose where to go, avoid crowds: choose a walk around a park rather than around shops.
However, hospital appointments are essential. But please check the hospital’s website prior to leaving, as any essential information will be displayed there.
At this moment in time, if you are concerned about social activities (pub/club/sporting event) you need to think what is the likelihood of me being exposed, and make an informed choice from there. If sustained transmission does occur at these kind of events, the government will look to place restrictions.
The current advice is to go to work. However, it may be worth opening a discussion with your employer as to whether you can look at alternative ways of working -especially within an office environment.
And remember that Skype/Whatsapp, email and phone calls are all good ways to communicate and prevent social isolation.
In most of our lifetimes, we have never seen an outbreak like this occur on our door-step, so we have never seen strict quarantine measures. However, rest assure that these plans have been in the works for years as the government and world organisations have been preparing for an outbreak such as influenza. We may see these measures coming into our lives soon and, while the novelty of it may be rather scary to some, we must not panic.’
We would also recommend a slight change in the advice on self-isolation – once an infected person has used their bathroom, they need to wipe it down thoroughly with an appropriate biocide (such as bleach or a disinfectant) – making sure that you leave it in place for long enough to do its work.
If you are suspected of having the virus, contact 111 for advice – and when you self isolate, remember that it is for the protection of others. Also, there is some good news coming out of China that you probably haven’t already seen: doctors are reporting that they are now seeing more empty beds than ill patients!
If you have any burning virus/coronavirus questions, do contact the VUK helpline and we will do our best to answer.
Information published on 1st March 2020
The UK, like many other countries, is still in the containment phase so we should prepare ourselves for when local transmission begins to occur.
Additionally, here is advice that Vasculitis UK has put together after consulting specialists:
Protecting yourself from the virus
Stop touching your face. Especially stop touching your eyes, nose or mouth. This is much harder than it sounds, and it takes practice. But if you start practicing now you will quickly get a lot better at it.
Wash your hands as much as humanly possible (we should be doing this regardless). Wash with soap and water. And wash thoroughly – a quick splash isn’t enough: the NHS video on hand-washing suggests singing “Happy Birthday” in your head – twice – to make sure you do a thorough enough job.
Where you cannot wash your hands, use hand sanitiser. Any hand sanitiser which has a claim against a virus such as influenza will work. Also look out for a code called EN14476. If it doesn’t have either of these they might not work.
Make sure you have enough supplies. Aim to have enough medication to last at least four weeks. Don’t panic buy enough food for a zombie apocalypse, but do buy an extra few provisions when you go shopping: aim to have two weeks’ worth of extras – and don’t forget your pets.
When local transmission does start, keep your distance from people: at least two metres, especially from people showing symptoms. Some people may transmit the virus without showing obvious symptoms so generally keep your distance regardless. No hand shakes, no hugs, no ‘fist bumps’ – just tell them No.
Face masks are essentially useless for the general population. One of our friendly medics says “With no disrespect, you will not wear them correctly – I’ve seen medics and people on the news wearing them incorrectly, not a single person in that Tenerife hotel was wearing them properly. All that wearing a mask will do it lull you into a false sense of security. Moreover, you won’t be used to wearing a mask and as a result you’ll most likely be touching your face more than normal. The special N95 mask is a respiratory protector against viruses but again these have to be professionally fitted to a specific size and it feels like a heavy-duty CPAP mask, so its not worth your time. There is evidence for wearing a mask should you be infected BUT this must be done under the recommendation of a health care professional as they can be hard to tolerate especially when having breathing difficulties.”
If you think that you have been exposed to the virus, then self-isolation can help reduce the risks – if done properly:
- You must isolate in a well ventilated room away from others – if it isn’t well ventilated you’ll turn the room into in incubator.
- You must not come into contact or share anything with your friends and family.
- If you cannot use your own bathroom, don’t use it until everyone else has and please please don’t share a towel.
If you become infected or think you have become infected DO NOT go to A&E or to your GP surgery – if you do have the virus, then every healthcare worker you have exposed could have to isolate, and that could be rather detrimental. Instead, Call 111 and ask for advice. They may send people to your house or they may send an ambulance. Always listen to these people. If they don’t think you need a test don’t push for it.
A final suggestion from one of our doctors: “If any of your friends or family are healthcare workers say Hi and thank them. These next few months are going to be very intense for them and what they will have to do to keep us safe will be nothing short of heroic. “
These are just practical steps we should take to prevent infection and limit the spread of the disease. Remember, panic helps no one. Just be very aware of whats going on around you.