Coronavirus, or officially ‘COVID-19’, is an international health challenge and a disease to take seriously. We can all play our part by taking good care of ourselves and families, getting into good habits. Frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds and sneezing and coughing into tissues will reduce the disease spread. At the same time, I am very conscious of the impact on businesses and am asking government to provide such support as it can. The government, the health authorities and other public sector bodies, the retail sector all had plans for such an event and these are kicking into action.
The symptoms of coronavirus are a cough, a high temperature, and/or shortness of breath. But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu. Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person. Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.
Most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places as normal unless government or medical advice changes. You only need to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to by the 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional.
- The latest information and advice from government can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public .
- Health advice from the NHS can be found at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ .
- The latest advice in Devon can be found at https://www.devon.gov.uk/document/coronavirus-advice-in-devon/
Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people immediately if you’ve travelled to the UK in the last 14 days from Hubei province in China, Iran, the lockdown areas in Northern Italy, and special care zones. Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people if you’ve travelled to the UK from the following places in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, even if your symptoms are mild: mainland China, Italy outside of the lockdown areas, South Korea outside of the special care zones, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Japan, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Most importantly do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital and instead use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next.
Public Health England, Devon County Council, Torbay and Plymouth Councils and local and national NHS colleagues are working closely together to respond to this situation locally and plan for any further cases. Public Health England has contacted anyone who may have had close contact with the confirmed cases. Close contacts have been given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after they had contact with the confirmed cases. This tried and tested method will ensure that any risk to them is minimised and the wider public is protected.
Devon County Council is well prepared to respond to the Coronavirus outbreak. They have contingency plans in place to ensure that vital front-line services are able to continue, and that our most vulnerable residents are kept well and safe.
Whilst the confirmation that we now have cases in Devon will undoubtedly increase people’s anxiety, it’s important to remain calm but vigilant and take necessary steps. The best action we can all take is to ensure we continue to have good personal and hand hygiene. Giving your hands a good wash with soap and water is the most effective action you can take (but hand gels can be a good substitute). Maintaining personal hygiene when coughing or sneezing is also important – use a tissue rather than your hands and then throw it away. It is good general practice to use cleaning wipes to give your keyboard, desk, phone etc. the once over on a regular basis.
My surgeries will continue. The next one will take place on Friday 20th March at 12pm. I will also be looking to establish a telephone/video surgery system in the coming days.