Professor Chris Whitty, 53, is one of the most important voices in the UK right now. He was lifted from obscurity to become a household name in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It will come as a shock to many that England’s Chief Medical Officer has posted on Twitter to announce he has recognised COVID-19 symptoms and is self-isolating.
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Posting on Twitter, Prof Whitty said: “After experiencing symptoms compatible with COVID-19 last night, in line with the guidance, I will be self-isolating at home for the next seven days.
“I will be continuing to advise the Government on the medical response to Coronavirus, supported by my deputies.”
This comes only hours after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and health secretary Matt Hancock said they had tested positive with COVID-19.
So, how do you know if you have it?
According to the NHS, the main reported symptoms are a high temperature and a new, continuous cough.
According to the health site, the former means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
The latter typically means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
If you spot these mild symptoms, public health bodies are urging you to self-isolate for seven days.
It is absolutely critical to the protection of others that you do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.
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According to the health measures enforced by the UK government, if you are self-isolating with mild symptoms, you must not leave your home for any reason, other than to exercise once a day – but stay at least two metres (three steps) away from other people.
The government has also instructed you must not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home.
Furthermore, you must not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home.
You can use your garden, if you have one, however, it says.
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How long should you self-isolate for?
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you’ll need to self-isolate for seven days, says the NHS.
After seven days:
- If you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to self-isolate
- If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal
“You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after seven days,”n explains the health body.
It adds: “A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone,” explains the health site.”
Why is self-isolation so important?
Self-isolation is part of the suppression effort to reduce the rate of transmission in society.
Slowing down the spread provides a crucial window to developing a vaccine and helping the government to launch effective counter-responses.
Can I reduce my risk of catching it?
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), you can protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.
As WHO explains, the COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
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