Following analysis of worldwide data gathered from Coronavirus patients, the World Health Organization has updated its list of Covid-19 symptoms and the likelihood of someone with the virus exhibiting them.
Based on just under 56,000 laboratory confirmed cases, as of 20 February 2020, the common symptoms include fever (87.9% of cases), dry cough (67.7%), fatigue (38.1%), shortness of breath (18.6%) and sore throat (13.9%). The full list can be viewed here1.
Understanding the virus
Dr David Poots, senior occupational health physician at BHSF, feels the right steps are being taken by medical experts in tackling coronavirus. He also believes medical professionals now have a clearer understanding of the disease.
“The research carried out by WHO provides us with a clear understanding of the signs and symptoms to look out for. What the findings also show is the need for people to self-isolate if they have any of the symptoms listed.
“As the disease has spread around the world, our knowledge of coronavirus has grown. Diagnostic tests are being developed with new treatments being tested.
“Testing programmes are being set up, but capacity is limited and key workers are being prioritised. The current test can tell if you have the virus and is useful to help get key workers out of isolation sooner.
“We hope to have antibody tests soon. These are the tests which let you know you have had the infection and are immune. The hope is that validated tests will be available through the NHS, allowing people to be certified as immune and able to resume normal life.
“Until then, the rules about self-isolation and hygiene are more important than ever.
“The difficulty with Covid-19 is the symptoms are very similar to other flu viruses and they can be quite mild. That’s why people are being advised to self-isolate if they have a cough or fever, even if they don’t feel seriously ill.
“I have already talked to many patients who didn’t want to let their colleagues down and kept working even though they had symptoms. The advice on social isolation goes against the grain. It’s not what we usually do, but during this emergency, it is essential to follow the guidance.
“Anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for seven days, after which they can leave the house as long as the purpose for doing so falls within government advice.
“If you live with someone who has symptoms you might be incubating coronavirus and must self-isolate for 14 days.
“If you get symptoms such as nasal congestion, diarrhoea or nausea, don’t panic. These are mild symptoms and you are more than likely to make a full and speedy recovery, providing you self-isolate.”
Follow the guidelines
Dr Poots has also urged people to stay at home and warns that anyone, of any age, can get infected.
“People aged over 60 and those with underlying conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease and cancer, have a higher risk of getting coronavirus.
“However, no one is immune to getting infected and the sad deaths of children and healthcare workers under 40 is proof of that.
“If you don’t have any symptoms and you follow the government guidelines on physical distancing and daily exercise, you are giving yourself a chance of staying safe. Not only that, you avoid overloading the NHS.
“The NHS is already under immense pressure as it is. If people play their part and stay at home, you are helping to prevent the virus from spreading. It also means healthcare staff can have more capacity to attend to serious cases.
“The guidelines are there for a reason. Follow them.”
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1 – Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)