Do You have a Question About COVID-19?

With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the globe, many people are misinformed about the true nature of the virus and how it spreads.

To help you with all your burning questions about this pandemic, The Sikh Helpline has reached out to UK Professional Doctors to provide medically qualified answers that you can rely on. These will be compiled and published further down  this page under the heading FAQs About COVID-19

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  • If you have specific questions related to your health, contact your GP instead.


FAQs About COVID-19

COVID-19 Q&A From  UK Professional Doctors 

01. Where can you get information on COVID-19?

This Q&A guidance, produced on 4 April 2020, is based on the following reliable, authentic sources of information. Please consult these for further information:

OTHER SOURCES, SUCH AS INFORMATION BEING CIRCULATED ON SOCIAL MEDIA, MUST NOT BE CIRCULATED AS THESE OFTEN PERPETUATE MISINFORMATION AND FAKE NEWS. THIS INCLUDES WHATSAPP, FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, ETC.

MISINFORMATION CAN CAUSE AVOIDABLE DEATHS. WHO HAS STATED EVERYONE HAS A RESPONSIBILITY TO PREVENT THE SPREAD OF MISINFORMATION AMONG THE COMMUNITY.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association  

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02. What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a group of common pre-existing viruses such as influenza and the common cold virus but this novel (new type of ) virus was first discovered in China in December 2019.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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03. What is COVID-19?

COVID-19  stands for the following: CO-: Corona, VI-: Virus, D-: disease, -19: year.

The virus that causes COVID-19 was discovered in February 2020 and has been named SARS COV-2.

SARS COV-2 stands for the following:  Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, COV-2:

In 2002, there was a similar outbreak – the SARS outbreak – caused by the SARS COV-1 virus. It was contained and was on a smaller scale to Covid-19.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association

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04. How does the Coronavirus affect the human body?

Coronavirus affects the respiratory system: mostly the upper respiratory airways (the sinuses and nasal passages, down to the throat) and less frequently, the lower respiratory airways (the bronchus and lungs).

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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05. How does it spread?

Coronavirus is spread via droplets expressed out of the respiratory tract of an infected individual, such as through coughing, sneezing, and heavy breathing. To cause disease, the virus droplets have to enter the body via the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Direct transmission: If you are suffering from COVID-19, you can cough or sneeze ~0.7ml of fluid into your surroundings, which travel a distance of up to ~2 metres. (The larger droplets fall within 1 metre and the smaller droplets can travel up to 3 metres).

Contact transmission: If the droplets land on a surface, and you make contact with the surface i.e. with your hands, the transmission would occur from touching  your face, eyes, nose or mouth with that hand. N.B. Covid-19 can live on a hard surface for up to 72 hours, though most viral particles die within 24 hours.

Coronavirus is not known to spread through any other route.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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06. What are the symptoms?

After making contact, the virus has an incubation period of about 5 days. In these 5 days, the virus rapidly replicates inside the body. Often, by day 5, you may experience either or both of the following most common symptoms:

  • A high fever (over 37.8 degrees). The body feels hot to touch.
  • A new, persistent dry cough lasting more than 6 hours

From day 7 onwards, you may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Shortness of breath/difficulty in breathing
  • Tightness of chest
  • Aching of the body (less often)
  • Low energy levels (less often)
  • Sore throat is uncommon, whereas with influenza, a sore throat is a very common symptom that will develop within 48 hours of contact.

In 80% of cases, the symptoms are mild and settle by day 14, with a full recovery. For the remaining 20% of cases, the symptoms worsen and can develop into pneumonia and prove fatal.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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07. How can you tell the difference between COVID-19, a common cold, and the flu?

It is not easy to distinguish between these. Clinically, testing is the only way to confirm whether or not you have COVID-19. But, currently, testing is not done to scale to allow wider diagnosis at earlier stages.

The symptoms of a common cold usually start within 48 hours of contact. Symptoms include: a runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat. The common cold tends to last for 5 to 7 days.

The symptoms of influenza (flu) usually start within 48 hours of contact. Symptoms include: a severe sore throat, a dry hacking cough, and aching of the body. The flu tends to last for 7 to 10 days.

Please see question 5 for COVID-19 symptoms.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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08. Does everyone have serious symptoms?

As stated in question 5, around 80% of COVID-19 cases are mild and there is full recovery within 14 days.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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09. What should we do if we have the symptoms?

As of 3 April 2020 , current guidance states that you should self-isolate indoors for 7 days. This means no visitors are allowed. If you live with others, the rest of your household should also self-isolate for 14 days.

If symptoms worsen after 7 days and include difficulty in breathing and chest tightness, please telephone your GP as you may require hospital admission.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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10. How can you isolate yourself if you have other household members such as family at home?

If space permits, you should isolate yourself from the rest of the household in a separate room on your own. Use shared spaces i.e. bathroom and kitchen as little as possible, and for brief a period of time as possible. Any surfaces that you come into contact with should be cleaned with disinfectant or warm soapy water for at least one minute by other household members wearing gloves.

At all times, you should maintain a distance of 2 metres from other household members.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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11. Is staying at home important?

Yes – it is absolutely vital to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent the transmission. Staying at home/social isolation, washing your hands, and maintaining proper hygiene when coughing and sneezing (catch it, bin it, kill it) are the most effective tools for combating COVID-19.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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12. Why is washing your hands important?

The SARS COV-2 virus has a fragile outer surface (a fatty layer), which is its weak point. This outer fatty layer is destroyed by soap if used for 20 seconds or more. After 20 seconds of soap use, the virus is destroyed and you should flush the soap lather away with warm water. Washing your hands for less than 20 seconds will not kill the virus and so is ineffective.

An example of ensuring you wash your hands for 20 seconds is to say the Mool Mantar twice.

You must follow this diagram for hand washing:

If you need to leave your home – to go to the supermarket for essentials, or one hour of exercise a day only, as per government guidelines – use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser (at least 60%).

(When outside, you must follow supermarket guidance when you are there – this will involve maintaining a 2 metre distance at all times, such as when browsing aisles and queuing).

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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13. Who are most vulnerable to COVID-19?
  • Over 65s: as of mid-March, all over 70s have been instructed by the UK government to self-isolate for 12 weeks (see questions 8 and 9 for guidance on self-isolating). Global statistics show that the most deaths have occurred in the over-80s population.
  • Those with long-term conditions, such as: high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory illnesses (e.g. asthma), chronic kidney disease, cancer, and those who are immune-compromised.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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14. What are the essentials for COVID-19 hygiene?
  • Tissues (these must be used only once, and then thrown away). Please dispose of refuse black bin bags by using a double-bag method)
  • Soap
  • Alcohol-based sanitiser gel (at least 60% alcohol content).
  • Thermometer (useful, but not essential)

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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15. Should we wear face masks?

Face masks are not essential. As per question 10, the most effective tools for preventing COVID-10 are: Staying at home/social isolation, social distancing from others, washing your hands, and maintaining proper hygiene when coughing and sneezing (catch it, bin it, kill it campaign).

Global health advice states that face masks do not on their own prevent COVID-19 transmission. Wearing a mask does not mean you should become complacent in following other hygiene practices such as washing your hands.

Masks are only required where advised by a doctor.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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16. Where can I get the most up-to-date statistics on COVID-19 cases from?

The WHO Situation Dashboard provides updates on the global situation and can be found here: https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/685d0ace521648f8a5beeeee1b9125cd

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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17. Have there been pandemics before?

Yes. The WHO defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease.

In the past 100 years, there have been numerous pandemics. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The largest was the Spanish Influenza in 1918: there were 500 million worldwide cases and 25 million deaths.
  • In 2002 there was a SARS pandemic caused by SARS CoV-1 virus: this originated in China and had a death rate of 10%.
  • In 2009 there was a Swine Flu pandemic caused by H1N1 virus: this originated in Mexico, and had a very low death rate (<0.1%)
  • In 2012, there was a MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome): this originated in Saudi Arabia and had a death rate of 35%.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has a death rate of ~3%.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association 

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18. Is the feeling of having a lump in the throat one of the symptoms of Covid 19?

No, even a sore throat is not a common symptom in covid 19. The lump sensation is usually due to inflammation in the throat, so a different type of infection, such as tonsillitis.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association

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19. If I put on a mask am I safe to go out?

Firstly putting on a mask and going out is not safe, a mask will not prevent you getting the Coronavirus disease, all that it will do is stopping yourself sneezing and coughing on others. The mask is not advised as a prevention, the best prevention if keeping a 2 meters distance away from other people, washing your hands regularly and if you sneeze or cough, to cover your mouth to prevent the aerosol spray reaching others.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association

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20. I have asthma but have not had an attack in years. I work as a cashier in a bank and because the branch I work in is very small ,would it be advisable to stay at home ?

There is not enough information to give you firm advice. Speak to you GP who has your medical details, history and list of your current medication – your GP will be able to respond with an appropriate answer.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association

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21. Can I catch the Coronavirus through my eyes?

Yes the virus can be contracted through the eyes, wearing goggles and fully sealed mask to protect yourself would prevent 95% of risk, but is impractical to do so.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association

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22. Is it true that Coronavirus can stay in the air for a period of time?

The virus is not airborne but lives in droplets, and would die if left to dry out, so it’s not like the common cold or influenza which is airborne, however in laboratory tests it was found to linger in the air after sneezing  for up to two hours, but that was found in laboratory conditions and not real life, so it’s not much of a worry

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association

 
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23. Can I get reinfected with Coronavirus after having it?

You will only get the covid 19 virus infection once. If the SARS Cov-2 virus mutated, it may then re infect as a new disease, but unlikely.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association

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24. After overcoming Coronavirus, how do I know that I am clear so I am not affecting others?

Wait 14 days in social isolation starting from contact with someone who had symptoms. It is the passing of 14 days time that develops your immunity.

by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Sikh Doctors Association

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25. How long does the virus survive on surfaces?
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

By WHO ( World Health Organisation )

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26. My mum has terminal cancer and is currently at home, My younger brother is caring for her, am I allowed to go  as mum  is vulnerable and she needs care.

Mum is clearly vulnerable. Anyone caring for her should use precautions and have minimal close contact without face mask and gloves. Use extra care with hard surfaces and wipe them with soap and water or cleaning solutions. Similarly make sure to wash hands. Have minimal exposure to anyone else outside the household

There is no easy solution to this and hospital can be more dangerous for her as risk of infection is much higher.

by Dr. Harmandeep Singh, Consultant in Cardiology and Acute Medicine

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