The UK has been placed under a lockdown for three weeks. On March 23, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation, requesting us all to remain indoors and avoid public travel. The prime minister also announced the closure of all non-essential businesses and banned most social events.
This extraordinary set of measures were taken to limit the further spread of coronavirus, a new virus that originated in a wet market in Wuhan, a city in Eastern China and caused a global pandemic. The coronavirus or Covid-19 has been detected in over 196 different countries and territories around the world.
As of March 25, over 8000 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the UK. The virus has killed over 437 people in the UK and the number of deaths is expected to continue rising. The situation is truly alarming. It’s clear that if we are to control this pandemic, we need to respond collectively as a society – and the first step is to educate ourselves about Covid-19, its symptoms, and preventive guidelines.
Read on to know what the Covid-19 lockdown means for you and what you can do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe:
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus disease, also known as Covid-19, is a highly infectious respiratory illness caused by a newly identified coronavirus that emerged in a wet market in Wuhan, China.
Coronaviruses are a family of zoonotic viruses, meaning they jump from animals to humans. The specific strain that caused Covid-19 disease is thought to have infected stall keepers in a seafood market where a wide range of wild animals was traded illegally.
Coronaviruses are of different types but most of them cause respiratory illness in humans. The 2002 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARs) epidemic and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERs) were both caused by coronaviruses.
Presently, we have limited information about the novel virus that causes Covid-19 infection but researchers around the world are working tirelessly to better understand the virus itself, the symptoms it causes and its cure.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), most people with coronavirus disease experience mild to moderate respiratory symptoms before recovering. However, old people and those with pre-existing health conditions are more likely to suffer from serious illness – these people suffer from pneumonia-like symptoms.
Common symptoms of Covid-19 include:
- Respiratory issues such as wheezing and breathing difficulties
- Sore throat
- Persistent dry or productive cough
- Shortness of breath
More severe cases may exhibit the following symptoms:
- High fever
- Severe pain and body ache
- Aggravated cough
- Nausea or vomiting
*If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, the NHS recommends that you stay at home and self-isolate for at least 7 days. If your symptoms get worse or last longer than 7 days, call NHS 111. For more information, read the UK government’s guidelines
How Does Covid-19 Spread?
The coronavirus is a novel disease so researchers are still figuring out how it spreads. So far, we know that the coronavirus can be transmitted from person to person through small droplets from coughs and sneezes.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they release small droplets of saliva or nasal discharge in the air. These minuscule droplets containing the virus either fall on people or are inhaled by them. They can also be picked up on the hands and then transferred when you touch your face.
While its highly unlikely that the Covid-19 spreads through packages and food, the virus can stay alive and stable on surfaces such as bus seats, door handles and furniture for many hours to days. There have also been reports of people without symptoms (asymptomatic individuals) transmitting the virus but we still require more research to be sure.
Is There a Cure for Covid-19?
Since the Covid-19 is caused by a virus we are completely unfamiliar with, no specific treatment or vaccine is available for coronavirus so far. It may take a while for us to properly understand the virus and develop a vaccine for it. According to the WHO, clinical trials to evaluate potential treatments are already underway.
For now, we need to take preventive measures to protect ourselves against the virus and contain its spread.
Preventive Guidelines for Coronavirus
Small steps can make a huge difference. Here are some of the steps you can take to prevent the infection and slow its transmission:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Wet your hands with water, lather them up with soap and scrub them properly. Make sure you clean the gap between your fingers, your fingertips, and thumbs properly.
- Make it a habit to wash your hands every time you come back home.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if water and soap are not available.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
- Cover your mouth with a nose and tissue paper when you cough or sneeze. Sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have tissue papers.
- Dispose of your tissue papers and wash your hands afterward
- Stay at home, especially if you’re feeling unwell
- Practice social distancing, avoid unnecessary travel and keep a physical distance of at least 1 meter with others
- If you smoke, consider cutting down or quitting altogether. Remember, the Covid-19 mainly affects the lungs and respiratory tract and smoking damages the lungs.
- If you’re experiencing symptoms of the virus, you should review these NHS guidelines and self-isolate immediately.
- Call your healthcare provider instead of visiting them
*Review the guidelines issued by the UK government in detail here
Covid-19 Lockdown in the UK
Earlier on Monday evening, the prime minister enforced a stringent set of measures to stop the spread of Covid-19.
The government closed schools and ordered all non-essential businesses, including restaurants, cafes, clothing stores, gyms, rental services to shut down. Read on to know what this lockdown means for you:
How Long Will the Lockdown Last?
At least 3 weeks
Can I Go Out?
You can go out if you are:
- Shopping for necessities such as food or medicine – but try to make your trips as infrequent as possible by using delivery services (if possible)
- Exercising outdoors – you can run, cycle or walk alone or with members of your household once a day but gatherings of more than 2 people are banned.
- A care provider – if you are providing care to vulnerable people or catering to medical needs
- Commuting from work – only if you cannot work from home or if you are a key worker
What Remains Open?
Essential businesses such as supermarkets, food shops, pharmacies, health shops, petrol stations, cycle repair shops, pet shops ad banks will remain open while non-essential businesses such as restaurants, pubs, salons, apparel shops, libraries, and playgrounds will remain shut. View the complete list of essential and non-essential businesses here.
Which Social Events Are Banned?
The government has strictly advised the public to remain indoors and refrain from all social gatherings. The following events are banned in the UK lockdown:
- Religious Gatherings like Baptisms
- Sporting events
- Visiting family members or relatives you do not live with
- Can I Go to Work?
Can I Use Public Transport?
If you are not a key worker, you should avoid using public transport, especially during peak hours. You may use public transport only if it is necessary.
Can the Police Arrest or Fine Me?
Yes, starting Thursday (26 March) the police will have the power to fine you for violations and even force you into self-isolation if they suspect you’re sick.
Stay Safe – Star Coaches of Batley
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