Coronavirus: St Neots Pharmacist explains fact from fiction and what you need to know right now
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With all the information about coronavirus or COVID-19 comes a lot of mixed messages – about how to reduce risk of infection, protect your mental health, and even whether there’s a treatment yet.
We spoke to Mr Asghar Karim of Buckden Pharmacy who confirms the facts and dispels any myths.
Q: What are the symptoms of coronavirus to look out for?
The main symptoms, which can be found on the NHS website are:
- A high temperature – check if you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
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- A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in twenty-four hours (if you usually have a cough, look out for one that is worse than usual).
- Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
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Q: How can I reduce the risk of infection?
You must follow government and NHS advice on social distancing to stop the spread of the virus. Other things you can do to reduce risk of infection are:
- Wash your hands with soap and water often for at least twenty seconds, and whenever you get home.
- Use hand sanitiser if you cannot wash your hands.
- When sneezing or coughing, you should cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands.
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
- The government is advising that you wear something to cover your mouth and nose in places where it’s hard to social distance, like on public transport or in the supermarket.
You can also take vitamin D and vitamin C tablets on a daily basis to strengthen your immune system.
Q: Is there a vaccine yet, and if not, when will there be one?
There is currently no vaccine available to protect against COVID-19. Although it would normally take years to develop one, researchers are working to make one available as soon as possible but currently no one knows when this will happen.
Most experts think a vaccine will become available by mid-2021, but this isn’t guaranteed.
Q: How should people who have coronavirus ease their symptoms at home?
Current advice which can be found on the NHS website to help you recover from the virus includes:
- Get lots of rest and sleep.
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration – your urine should be light yellow and clear.
- Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower your temperature if you’re uncomfortable.
Q: How long can we expect the virus to be prevalent?
Unfortunately, this is unknown. As we are facing an unprecedented situation, how matters develop cannot be easily predicted.
Q: Is the effect of coronavirus at least slowing down in the UK?
There has been a decrease in the number of new cases.
Although this is encouraging, you should continue to follow government guidelines to prevent an increase in new cases.
Q: What can people do to protect their mental health while social isolating?
There are a few things I would recommend like keeping in touch with people over the phone or online and paying attention to how you feel – it can help to discuss your anxieties with others. You can now also spend time outdoors with up to five people from different households, but you must still maintain social distancing and only enter someone else’s home to use the toilet or access the garden.
You also need to look after your body by eating healthy food, drinking enough water, and exercising when you can. If you’re a smoker, try to cut down, and don’t drink too much alcohol.
Getting enough sleep is also important, and it can help to plan your days to stay occupied. Don’t spend too much time on your mobile, tablet or video game device, or drink excessive amounts of tea and coffee.
I would also recommend spending time outdoors every day – with the new lockdown rules, you can do this as much as you like, but remember to stay two metres apart from people outside of your household.
Q: Are pharmacies still open?
Yes, although some may have altered their opening times.
Buckden Pharmacy is open as usual, however please don’t visit us unless necessary to protect you, our staff and the delivery of our services.
We are offering a free home delivery service to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. People identified as vulnerable in particular should take advantage of this.
If you think you may have coronavirus use the NHS 111 online service or call 111 if you cannot get help online. If you’re seriously ill and it’s an emergency call 999.
Sign up for free prescription delivery at www.buckdenpharmacy.co.uk or call them on 01480 810077.
Only visit them if need be at No 8 Hunts End, Buckden, St Neots PE19 5SU.