Dr Hilary Jones answers your coronavirus questions

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Every day, talkRADIO’s Dan Wootton will put your questions about the coronavirus outbreak to Dr Hilary Jones. 

During the pandemic talkRADIO will provide guidance and company to our listeners.

If you have a question about how to protect yourself or look after your loved ones please submit them here.


Q: When lockdown is eventually lifted, how are we going to avoid a second wave?

When we come out of lockdown it is likely to be in a phased way. The virus will still be circulating among the general population. We will have to practise social distancing still.

That situation could go on for some time. We will also need to test people who are symptomatic so they can be isolated and trace those who have been in contact with them and isolate them too.





Q: My mother in law is 84. When we come out of lockdown when will it be safe to visit her?

The virus is not going to go away just because the lockdown is phased out and every contact between human beings is a potential risk.

Provided you have not got any symptoms yourself, it seems reasonable to visit further down the line when we are seeing fewer cases.

But ideally you should keep 2 metres apart at all times, visit one at a time and visit outside rather than indoors.





Q: Are there more men or women hospitalised for coronavirus in the UK?

Men are disproportionately more affected than women, for reasons we don’t fully understand.

A possible explanation is that men tend to have been heavier smokers, have more underlying conditions or it could be genetic makeup.

In intensive care the ratio of men to women is around three or four to one.



Q: What precautions should we take when handling packages that have been delivered?

If the delivery person is carrying Covid-19, in theory the virus could live on the packaging for up to 24 hours.

Certainly do not talk to the delivery person. When you bring the package indoors you could wear gloves or you could leave the package for 48 hours and the virus would decay naturally.

Equally once you have unwrapped the packaging you could just wash your hands with soap and water.



Q: Can you catch coronavirus from supermarket trolleys?

Anything you touch could potentially be contaminated with by the virus. If you frequently hand wash and use hand sanitiser, whether you’ve touched a basket or a trolley, you are minimising your risk.



Q: How will the government roll out testing for everyone and when?

It would be great if we could test everybody else, however, you can’t test the whole population. We only have so many tests and the ones we have are prioritised for patients in hospital and frontline health staff.

When we have more capacity we will be able to test everybody else. We need more testing, we are hoping to get 100,000 tests per day by the end of the month but that is a difficult ask.



Q: Are we going to get a vaccine for coronavirus?

There are clever doctors and scientists, engineers working around the globe to come up with a vaccine to protect us against this horrible virus.

It’s not easy to quickly produce a vaccine. Viruses are such simple microorganisms that it actually makes it much harder to find a vaccine than for bacteria.

Once we’ve got a vaccine we need to know that it is effective and safe.

Our hope is that we’ll have that within a year.


Q: Can you have Covid-19 without having a fever?

The common symptoms of coronavirus is a fever and a new, persistent, dry cough but we know that some people don’t develop those symptoms and some people seem to have no symptoms whatsoever.

It is possible to have Covid-19 without a fever but it is unusual.



Q: I am anxious that my lodger is not working from home and still travelling up the country to visit family. Am I overreacting?

Not at all. Your lodger is behaving irresponsibly. If he’s not a key worker he should not be going into the office, nor should he be travelling the length of the country.

I think your tenant needs to look at his behaviour, he is flouting all the guidance.



Q: Are you infectious after recovering from Covid-19 and can you re-catch it?

After three to four days of feeling completely better (you have your energy back and all the symptoms have gone except the cough), it is thought that the virus has gone and you can carry on as normal.

We hope that you will not catch Covid-19 again, it is very unlikely. Usually an immunity is built up after 10 to 14 days that will last for a considerable amount of time.

However, this is a new virus so it is n to yet known how long that immunity will last.


Q: How long could the virus be alive on a newspaper if delivered by hand?

The virus does not live very long at all on paper or cardboard. It tends to be absorbed and killed on those surfaces, unlike on hard surfaces like plastic or metal.

In the unlikely event that the virus was on the surface of a newspaper, it would not last more than a few minutes.

Newspapers are important as a source of information and people need to be updated daily.


Q: I’m a single parent. If I get sick, who will look after my two-year-old?

If you become sick, you and your child should both self-isolate for 14 days.

If you have to go into hospital then someone will have to take care of your child. It could be neighbour, friend or relative.

If there is nobody like that around, social services will be able to help.



Q: How do I know if I have coronavirus?

The most common symptoms are:

- A new, persistent, dry cough

- A fever over 38 degrees C

Sometimes the virus can also present with:

- Symptoms of a common cold, such as a runny nose

- Sore throat

- Fatigue

- Headache

- Diarrhoea


Q: What about a loss of sense of taste and smell?

We are beginning to think, from data around the world, that some people who have mild symptoms only have this loss of sense of smell and taste.

We thought that was a late symptom but now we think that some people just get that symptom.

However, there are many reasons that you may lose your sense of smell, such as allergies or nasal congestion from an ordinary cold.



Q: I'm a mobile hairdresser, can I still visit clients in their own home if neither of us have symptoms?

Absolutely not. You must not be going into other people's homes.

That is exactly how this virus transmits.



Q: Why do we have to stay two metres apart? Does it apply to households?

It is thought by scientist and doctors that the virus is unlikely to travel as far as two metres when people cough, sneeze or talk to each other.

The virus is contained in droplets which will fall to the ground or be blown away so two metres is a safe distance.

If anyone is coughing in your vicinity, keep well away.


Q: Can I move in with my partner during lockdown?

It's not places that transmit the virus so much as people.

If you are moving in with a significant other with whom you have been in close contact before now, there's no reason why you can't move to be with that partner if you have been in close proximity anyway.

However, if there are other people in that household that is a different matter. You could potentially be introducing the virus to all those other people.

Dr Hilary's advice is, if it is just you and your partner that is fine - think again if there is a household involved.


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