The blockage of the coronavirus has left many of us with unanswered questions about how to approach our daily lives and the risks we face.
Last week we asked your questions about the pandemic, which we then presented to leading experts.
Here Professor John Oxford, a virologist at Queen Mary University in London, and Professor Gino Martini, chief scientist of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, answer your questions.
“In theory, the coronavirus could survive on mail, but I very much doubt that it would be present in significant quantities,” said Professor John Oxford, a virologist at Queen Mary University of London. (Stock image)
Q. I think I contracted the corona virus and am now better. How likely is it that I will get it again?
A. “We are not sure if you can get the coronavirus more than once because we have only just started studying it,” says Professor Oxford.
However, based on observations of similar viruses over the past 30 to 40 years, it would be very unusual to get it twice because if we get a virus we develop antibodies, cells that will fight it when we come into contact along.
“Even if you did that [become unwell again]the infection would be much less serious because you now have some immunity to it.
“We know that the spread of the coronavirus is similar to that of influenza – via droplets – but, unlike flu, it does not mutate, so if you develop immunity to it you should be able to fight it.”
Q. I use ibuprofen for joint pain, but have heard that it is related to the coronavirus. Should I quit?
A. “Earlier this month, French research warned that ibuprofen and similar anti-inflammatories could worsen coronavirus infection,” said Professor Martini. “But the truth is, the evidence is not strong enough to say there is any connection.
“If you are already using ibuprofen or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.
Will there be a second wave of infections?
Q. W.ill the virus come back if we go out normally?
A. “To combat this virus, we need to isolate people and reduce social contact, as it will stop transmission of the virus,” says virologist Professor John Oxford.
“If it turns out that the virus has disappeared, we have to slowly break through these quarantine measures, because the virus may return – it will still circulate even if we don’t see people with symptoms.
“We cannot all return to normal at the same time. It must be done carefully, with control over the number of people quarantining at the same time.
“However, if the virus does come back, we’ll be better prepared: hopefully we’ll have diagnostic tests, better masks, natural immunity and possibly even a vaccine to help us fight it.”
“But patients who have confirmed or suspect Covid-19 should use acetaminophen instead.”
Q. I want to send Easter cards, but can the virus be spread by mail processing?
A. “In theory, the coronavirus could survive on mail, but I very much doubt that it would be present in significant quantities,” says Professor Oxford.
Research recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that while the virus is detectable on cardboard and 72 hours of plastic for 24 hours, the virus declines rapidly on each of those surfaces over time.
“It is more likely that you will be infected by a person.
“My advice is to just keep going – send your cards – and focus on reducing the ways we know the virus can be easily spread, for example, by washing your hands.”
Q. I am 73 and find it relaxing to go to my allotment garden – it is also a good way to get some exercise. Can I still go?
A. “As long as you stick to the rules of social distance – keeping people away from and to allotment and while you’re there – it’s fine to go,” said Professor Oxford.
“As an owner of an allotment garden, I know what benefits welfare can offer.”
I have a heart condition that puts me in the risk group. I organize food deliveries – how long should I leave them outside the door to avoid getting the virus?
“This may be based on the theory that UV light from the sun kills the virus, but the UV effect will not be very strong,” says Professor Oxford.
“My advice would be to get them in right away, but wipe the items with an alcohol-based product (alcohol kills viruses) before you put them away – and then wash your hands.”
Professor John Oxford, a virologist at Queen Mary University of London, is pictured above
Q. I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), should I avoid the stores?
A. “COPD is an umbrella name for diseases that cause breathing difficulties and, whether you are on medication or have symptoms, it is a serious condition – especially if it is a virus like this that affects the respiratory tree,” says Professor Oxford. .
“You should take this seriously, be more careful than the general public, follow all advice and seek medical attention if you have breathing problems.
“If you do catch it, the symptoms are probably more serious than others.”
Q. I have been identified as a serious risk, so I have to stay at home for 12 weeks and limit contact with the rest of my family at home. However, I think I’ve already had it. Is there a plan to offer people like me the antibody test so we don’t have to isolate for so long?
A. “An antibody test will be really important in the fight against the coronavirus, because it will let people know whether or not they have had the virus,” said Professor Oxford.
“Once they have had it, they can return to work and reduce the stress and anxiety that many people experience.
However, before it becomes available, public health officials need to make sure it’s a good test. No test is 100 percent accurate, but we need to make sure it doesn’t generate too many false positives [where people are wrongly diagnosed as having had the virus] or false negatives [being told they haven’t had the virus when they actually have].
“As soon as we know that the test is good, we can start using it. It is not yet clear when this will be exactly. “
Professor Gino Martini, chief scientist of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, is pictured above
Q. Why do you have to stay at home for seven days if you have symptoms and fourteen days if you live with someone who has symptoms?
A. “If you live with others, the person with the symptoms should stay at home for seven days from the day the symptoms started,” said Professor Martini.
“All other members of the household should stay at home for 14 days from the first day the other person had symptoms, even if they don’t have any symptoms themselves.
“This is because the virus is highly contagious and it is likely that people within the same household will infect each other.
“Staying at home for 14 days reduces the risk of transmission of the infection to others outdoors.
“The evidence suggests that people who develop symptoms after the seventh day of illness are unlikely to infect other people, so these people may return to normal activities at this point.”
Professor Oxford adds, “The 14-day period provides some room for maneuver in case you incubate the virus and pass it on even if you have no symptoms.”
Q. What treatments do people who are diagnosed with coronavirus receive in hospital?
A. “Patients in the hospital with the coronavirus will have their temperature checked and will have a chest X-ray or an MRI scan to check for changes in their lungs,” said Professor Oxford.
“They get moisture to reduce the risk of dehydration and, if necessary, oxygen or fan them to help them breathe.
“There are no proven drugs to treat the virus, although an antiviral called remdesivir looks promising.
“Good nursing is key in the hospital; put the patient at ease and ensure they are getting enough oxygen. ‘