Source: World Health Organisation

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.  Covid-19 is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.

What is a pandemic?

A pandemic is the worldwide spread of an infectious disease affecting an exceptionally high proportion of the population within a short period. Twenty-first century pandemics include the 2016 yellow fever outbreak in Angola, the 2009 flu (H1N1) virus and the Covid-19 outbreak (also known as the coronavirus).

There is sometimes confusion between a pandemic and an epidemic. An epidemic is also an outbreak of a disease, but one that attacks many people at around the same time and on a smaller geographic scale such as through one or several communities. An example is the Ebola epidemic that affected Liberia and surrounding countries in West Africa in 2014 and 2015.

What are the symptoms of Covid-19?

Source: NHS 111 Coronavirus

There is a lot of conflicting information around concerning the symptoms of Covid-19.

Symptom Matrix (source: Irish Health & Safety Executive):  

Covid-19 Common Cold Seasonal Flu
Fever / Chills Common* Common Rare
Cough Common* (usually dry) Common (usually dry) Mild
Fatigue Sometimes Common Sometimes
Aches & Pains Sometimes Common Sometimes
Sore Throat Sometimes Sometimes Common
Headaches Sometimes Common Rare
Shortness of Breath Sometimes* No No
Runny / Stuff Nose Rare Sometimes Common
Diarrhoea Rare Sometimes in Children Common
Sneezing No No Common

* These are generally considered to be the primary symptoms.

What to do if you (or an employee of yours) is displaying symptoms?

Source: NHS 111 Coronavirus

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.

Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.  You'll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.  Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.  You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

How to help prevent the spread of Covid-19

Source: NHS 111 Coronavirus:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

If you must use public facilities / door handles / the underground / aircraft, try to avoid touching your face (especially your eyes, nose and mouth) until you have washed your hands thoroughly.

Source: World Health Organisation:

Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. Take care of your health and protect others by doing the following:MeasureWhat is this?Measure 1: Regular Hand Washing

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.Measure 2: Social Distancing

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.Measure 3: Protect your face

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.Measure 4: Practise good respiratory hygiene

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.

* Hand sanitiser is said to be effective at cleaning hands (if you are unable to use soap and water) if it contains more than 60% alcohol.

Cleaning your Workplace


If you have had a case of Coronavirus in your workplace:

  1. Cleaning an area with normal household disinfectant after someone with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
  2. If an area can be kept closed and secure for 72 hours, wait until this time has passed for cleaning as the amount of virus living on surfaces will have reduced significantly by 72 hours.
  3. Wherever possible, wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished.
  4. Using a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles.
  5. If an area has been heavily contaminated, such as with visible bodily fluids, from a person with coronavirus (COVID-19), consider using protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron.
  6. Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning.