As we are all aware, the Covid-19 epidemic now poses a high risk to all of us in the UK. The virus belongs to the same class as those that cause colds but is genetically very different from them. Firstly, this means that, like a cold, it is easy to catch: it is believed that you will catch the illness if you touch your face with hands that have not been washed, if the virus is present on your hands. In addition, it is thought you can also catch it by being within 2 metres of an infected person for 15 minutes or more. Secondly, because it is genetically very different, none of us have any immunity to it and the illness it produces can be severe. The risk of severe illness is much greater in people aged 70 and over, and those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, kidney or heart disease, or people who have recently had or are having cancer treatment.

To restrict the outbreak the Government have advised us all to adopt measures of social distancing (Government advice on social distancing). As a rule of thumb the smaller the number of people you interact with socially, the less likely you are to catch it. If you show the symptoms of a temperature and/or a continuous cough for 4 hours or more, you are very likely to have caught it, and you must self-isolate at home, for seven days from the day of onset of symptoms if you live alone, or fourteen days if you live with other people. The fourteen days applies to everyone who lives with you. You should not seek contact with medical services unless you are getting worse or if you have been unwell for more than 7 days. In that situation you then contact NHS 111, preferably online, and follow their advice (NHS 111 Covid-19 page). People aged 70 or over or those with chronic health conditions must self-isolate anyway until further notice.