26th August 2020 – The number of coronavirus cases in Oxford is rising, particularly among 20 to 30 year olds.
While you may not experience the worst of the symptoms yourself, you may pass it onto loved ones who do. It is up to each of us to stop the virus spreading. Play your part to help stop the spread: keep your distance, wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering, and avoid car sharing if you can.
If you have any coronavirus symptoms, you must self-isolate immediately and call 119 to book a test. And if you’ve been abroad to a country that is not on the exemption list, you must by law self-isolate for 14 days. Visit: www.gov.uk for more information.
Please see below some FAQs and useful guidance regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Who can apply for a test
You can apply for a test if you are:
- an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms
- aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms
- someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can apply if they live with an essential worker, a person aged 65 or over, or someone who travels to work.
You can also apply for a test if you have a clinical referral from NHS 111 online.
Coronavirus symptoms are a high temperature or a new, continuous cough.
For more information, please visit www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test
Get an Isolation Note
Use this service if you have to stay at home because of Coronavirus and you need a note for your employer.
If you have to stay at home but feel well enough to work, ask your employer if you can work from home. If you can work from home, you will not need an isolation note.
You can also use this service for someone else.
For more information about Volunteer Organisations, please visit our Volunteer Organisations Information Page.
Vulnerable patients can register for support using this link – www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
Supporting Children And Young People With Worries About COVID-19
For more information about Prescriptions during the Pandemic, please visit our dedicated page.
Statement from the Generation games:
“As all of our exercise sessions are currently suspended, we decided to create a series of Home Exercise sessions. These will be published on our website weekly”
Patients on Contraception
For patients who usually get their contraception from sexual health please visit www.sexualhealthoxfordshire.nhs.uk.
Domestic Abuse Support
New Carers Befriending Service
Oxford Health launched a new befriending phone line for carers this week. Carers can call 01865 901012 at any time and leave their details. A befriender will call back between 11am and 12 noon, Monday to Friday.
24/7 mental health helpline for the public provided by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
Advance Care Planning (End of Life Care)
For the vast majority of people who contract the corona virus the symptoms will be mild with few long lasting effects, however certain groups of patients will be at an increased risk of the illness making them very unwell. These people have been asked to take strict social distancing measures and have been contacted by Public Health England to advise them to shield for at least 12 weeks. For these vulnerable patients in particular it is important to think early, and while they are well, about how they would want to be treated in the event that they became very unwell.
We are encouraging all our patients to consider Advanced Care Planning as a way of personalising your care and giving an opportunity to make healthcare professionals aware of your wishes. Please read the information below and contact us if you would like to discuss this further or put a plan together. Please be assured it is not a complicated process and simply involves a discussion with your GP and the recording of your wishes in our notes. It is critically important that your wishes are communicated to all health agencies (ambulance, out of hours and the acute hospital) to ensure, in the event of an emergency, that your wishes are known- your GP can do this for you.
We have now completed our work to identify those patients that need to be Shielded during the pandemic. More information on about this can be found at www.nhs.uk.
If you have received a Shielding letter from the Government and you do not have family or friends who can collect medicines for you; you are encouraged to register for the NHS volunteer service. However if you need medicines urgently a Home Delivery Service can be provided by the practice.
What is the Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.
How does COVID-19 spread?
People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.
Can the virus that causes COVID-19 be transmitted through the air?
Studies to date suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air.
Can COVID-19 be caught from a person who has no symptoms?
The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing. The risk of catching COVID-19 from someone with no symptoms at all is very low. However, many people with COVID-19 experience only mild symptoms. This is particularly true at the early stages of the disease. It is therefore possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has, for example, just a mild cough and does not feel ill. WHO is assessing ongoing research on the period of transmission of COVID-19 and will continue to share updated findings.
Can I catch COVID-19 from the feces of someone with the disease?
The risk of catching COVID-19 from the feces of an infected person appears to be low. While initial investigations suggest the virus may be present in feces in some cases, spread through this route is not a main feature of the outbreak.
Protection measures for everyone
Stay aware of the latest information on the COVID-19 outbreak. Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.
You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
- Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
- Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention from 111.
Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area.
Who is at risk of developing severe illness?
While we are still learning about how COVID-2019 affects people, older persons and persons with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) appear to develop serious illness more often than others.
Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating the COVID-19?
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, they only work on bacterial infections. COVID-19 is caused by a virus, so antibiotics do not work. Antibiotics should not be used as a means of prevention or treatment of COVID-19. They should only be used as directed by a physician to treat a bacterial infection.
Are there any medicines or therapies that can prevent or cure COVID-19?
While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease.
Is there a vaccine, drug or treatment for COVID-19?
Not yet. To date, there is no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-2019. However, those affected should receive care to relieve symptoms. People with serious illness should be hospitalized. Most patients recover thanks to supportive care.
Possible vaccines and some specific drug treatments are under investigation. They are being tested through clinical trials. The World Health Organisation is coordinating efforts to develop vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat COVID-19.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue, and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.
Should I wear a mask to protect myself?
Only wear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or looking after someone who may have COVID-19. Disposable face mask can only be used once.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others against COVID-19 are to frequently clean your hands, cover your cough with the bend of elbow or tissue and maintain a distance of at least 1 meter (3 feet) from people who are coughing or sneezing.
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.
It is advised that those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) should be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.
This group includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
How do I know if I am at high risk?
If you fall into one of the above categories, you should be particularly stringent with social distancing. However, there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, NHS England will directly contact you with advice about the more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and others safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full.
People falling into this group are those who may be at particular risk due to complex health problems such as:
- people who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
- people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma (requiring hospital admissions or courses of steroid tablets)
- people with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)
What is social distancing?
Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
They are to:
- Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
- Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
- Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.
- Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
- Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is practicable.
We strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:
- are over 70
- have an underlying health condition
- are pregnant
This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.
Getting assistance with foods and medicines if you are reducing social contacts
Ask family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services. If this is not possible, then the public sector, business, charities, and the general public are gearing up to help those advised to stay at home. It is important to speak to others and ask them to help you to make arrangements for the delivery of food, medicines and essential services and supplies, and look after your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
If you receive support from health and social care organisations, for example, if you have care provided for you through the local authority or health care system, this will continue as normal. Your health or social care provider will be asked to take additional precautions to make sure that you are protected.
What should you do if you have hospital or GP appointments during this period?
We advise everyone to access medical assistance remotely, wherever possible. However, if you have a scheduled hospital appointment during this period, talk to your clinician to ensure you continue to receive the care you need and consider whether appointments can be postponed.
Our GPs are reviewing their appointments on an individual basis. We will be in contact with you to let you know whether to attend your appointment, or whether this appointment can be carried our remotely. Please do not attend your appointment until you have spoken to someone at the practice
What is the advice for visitors including those who are providing care for you?
You should contact your regular social visitors such as friends and family to let them know that you are reducing social contacts and that they should not visit you during this time unless they are providing essential care for you. Essential care includes things like help with washing, dressing, or preparing meals.
If you receive regular health or social care from an organisation, either through your local authority or paid for by yourself, inform your care providers that you are reducing social contacts and agree on a plan for continuing your care.
If you receive essential care from friends or family members, speak to your carers about extra precautions they can take to keep you safe.
It is also a good idea to speak to your carers about what happens if one of them becomes unwell. If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact, or if you do not have family or friends who can help you, you can contact your local council who should be able to help you.
Looking after your mental wellbeing
Understandably, you may find that social distancing can be boring or frustrating. You may find your mood and feelings are affected and you may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping and you might miss being outside with other people.
At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse. There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time such as:
- look for ideas of exercises you can do at home on the NHS website
- spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to the radio or watching TV programmes
- try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
- keep your windows open to let in fresh air, get some natural sunlight if you can, or get outside into the garden
You can also go for a walk or exercise outdoors if you stay more than 2 metres from others.
Can I get paid if I have to self-isolate?
You can get £94.25 per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
If you’re agricultural workers.
Changes to Statutory Sick Pay for coronavirus (COVID-19) self-isolation
Emergency legislation is being brought forward. You’ll be able to get SSP from the first day you’re self-isolating and cannot work. This will begin from 13th March.
Summary of advice
* if one member of your family or household has a new continuous cough or high temperature
** if you live alone and you have a new continuous cough or high temperature
*** noting cinemas, theatres, pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs are now all required to close. If you meet others when you are outdoors (for example, on a walk) ensure that you stay at least 2 meters away.
**** for example via telephone or internet
1 such as anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year
Guidance for Specific Health Conditions
People living with cancer now
People living with Eczema
For more information and advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) for people with eczema, please visit www.eczema.org.
People living with Heart or Circulatory Disease
The British Heart Foundation has published guidance for people with health problems.
People living with Diabetes
Diabetes UK has provided an updated information page for people living with diabetes.
People living with Asthma
Asthma UK has released a blog post with advice for people with asthma.
People living with Cystic Fibrosis and Immunodeficiencies
If you or someone you care for are worried about Coronavirus and need support and advice, call our Dementia Connect support line on 0333 150 3456.