Concerned that your lingering cough might be Covid-19? To put your mind at ease (or enable you to self-isolate properly, if necessary) Dr Ravi Tomar, GP at Portland Medical Centre, shares the most common coronavirus symptoms, explains how the virus manifests itself in humans, and details the expected recovery period.
What is the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of hundreds of viruses. While the vast majority of these viruses only affect animals, so far seven coronaviruses – including this new virus, known as ‘Covid-19’ – are known to have made the jump to humans.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) – are two of the best-known examples of coronaviruses which have been passed on to humans. The new virus, officially called Covid-19, is the latest to have infected humans
Who is at risk of catching coronavirus?
As with any virus, those with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk of Covid-19. As well as the oldest and youngest members of our population – those aged over 65, or under five – people with underlying conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney problems, cancer or HIV are all likely to be at increased risk.
Confirmed cases of Covid-19 have reported the following symptoms:
- A fever
- Dry cough
- General feeling of being weak and unwell
It is estimated that Covid-19 has an incubation period of 2-14 days, meaning it can take up to two weeks for an infected person to show symptoms.
If you’re starting to feel any of the above symptoms, the best thing to do is to call NHS 111.
How does coronavirus manifest?
For those in good health, if they contract Covid-19 they are most likely to experience a mild cough. It’s essential to self-isolate until told otherwise by a medical professional, as a mild case for a healthy person can quickly escalate into pneumonia if contracted by an individual with a compromised immune system.
Recovery really depends on the strength of the immune system. For people with an otherwise healthy immune system, recovery is likely to be similar to that of any other upper respiratory illness, such as flu.
People with mild symptoms may recover within a few days, whereas the more unusual cases who develop pneumonia may take several weeks or months to recover to full health.
With no vaccine currently available for Covid-19, the most effective way to protect vulnerable members of society – if you’re experiencing symptoms – is to self-isolate to avoid potential spread. You should also seek remote medical advice via the NHS 111 service.
If you are in the high risk group and have suspected coronavirus symptoms, seek medical advice immediately to ensure your symptoms can be monitored and treated appropriately.
The information in this story is accurate as of the publication date. While we are attempting to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, so it's possible that some information and recommendations may have changed since publishing. For any concerns and latest advice, visit the World Health Organisation. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while US users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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