WE are coming to the end of our third week in lockdown. As the death toll and confirmed number of coronavirus cases in this country continues to rise, Dr Hilary Jones is here to advise you on how best to protect yourself and your loved ones.
More than 10,000 of our readers have been in touch already to seek common-sense help, medical guidance and reassurance. Here, Dr Hilary – Health Editor for ITV’s Good Morning Britain and Lorraine – tells Emma Pietras what symptoms to look out for and who is most at risk.
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Q. I WORK in a care home for adults with learning disabilities. A resident was admitted to hospital and the night staff on duty are in self-isolation until they get their test results. I wasn’t in close contact that night but am I still at risk and should I self-isolate?
A. Even if the resident tests positive for Covid-19, if you were not in close contact there is no need to self-isolate. Follow the advice for all key workers — physical distancing and regular, thorough handwashing.
Q. MY daughter is a social worker and works in a hospital office. She has been feeling a bit weak with nausea the past two days and has been sent home from work. She doesn’t have a temperature or cough. Could it be coronavirus?
A. Having nausea without the other symptoms makes that unlikely. Sometimes, people who test positive do have digestive symptoms but these usually consist of diarrhoea along with the dry cough and high temperature. Keep an eye out for others but hopefully she will feel better very soon.
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Q. MY partner has had a bad cough since Christmas. The medication prescribed by doctors has not worked. His chest X-ray was clear. Can I rule out coronavirus? No one he has been in contact with has it.
A. This does not constitute a new cough, which is important. There were no cases of Covid-19 reported in this country at Christmas and even those people who test positive with a dry cough are usually over their symptoms within two weeks. It is more likely his cough has an allergic basis or is due to acid reflux from the stomach.
Q. I’M due to give birth in a few weeks. I have cardiomyopathy so am I on the high-risk list? I’m following the advice to stay home.
A. Your pregnancy and your heart condition put you in the more vulnerable group. So you are right to be taking every precaution. Midwives know to be vigilant with expectant mums and have measures in place.
For example, your partner will only be allowed into the delivery suite for the birth itself. Hospitals are still the safest place to have your baby, as emergency services might be hard-pressed to get to you if you have difficulties resulting from a home birth.
⚠️ Read ALL Dr Hilary's coronavirus advice here
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Q. I’VE had chemo-therapy and finished radiotherapy back in February for breast cancer. But I keep getting chest infections. Am I high-risk?
A. You really should consider yourself in the more vulnerable group, not just because of your recent medical history of cancer treatment but because of these chest infections.
You have been through so much already so best adopt the stricter precautions that are necessary for people in your situation.
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Q. MY daughter has been unwell for two weeks, has a bad cough and is breathless. I had a phone appointment with the doctor and she was prescribed five days’ worth of amoxicillin. That finished on Sunday but she is not much better.
A. With her symptoms, it is possible she has coronavirus and her doctor has treated her with antibiotics to reduce the possibility of a secondary bacterial infection.
Since antibiotics have no effect against viruses, don’t be surprised that this has not improved her symptoms. Hopefully she turns the corner soon. If her breathing deteriorates and she feels she cannot cope, however, call 111 — or 999 in an emergency.