What is coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large strain of viruses, ranging from mild cold-like symptoms to more severe respiratory conditions, such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). In 2019, a new strain of coronavirus known as COVID-19 was discovered, which is currently causing the global pandemic.
Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, shortness of breath, and cough. These symptoms can range from mild, cold- or flu-like symptoms, or can cause more severe infections such as pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, organ failure, or death.
(The above video from YouTube explains what CORONA-19 very well)
How does coronavirus affect Alphas?
Because COVID-19 is so new, not much is known about the disease, or how it interacts with underlying conditions. It is particularly important, though, that those deemed at high risk take extra precautions to avoid contracting the disease. This includes those who are 70 or over, pregnant, have an underlying health condition, or have a weakened immune system.
As Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is an underlying health condition which particularly impacts the lungs, it is vital that those with the condition take extra precautions to not contract or spread the disease. This may include working from home, self-isolating if showing symptoms, or reducing the number of people you come into contact with on a daily basis.
What can I do to prevent catching coronavirus?
While there is always a small chance that you might catch COVID-19, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your exposure. These include:
• washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser if you can’t wash)
• avoiding close contact with anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19
• limiting public transportation and outings to only that which is essential (eg, supermarkets, pharmacy, GP, etc.)
• avoiding social outings to restaurants, pubs, or cafes,
• avoiding any social events with 50+ people
• avoiding any visitors to your home, including friends and family
• working from home, where possible
What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?
If you have a high fever or continuous cough (that is newly contracted on what any cough you might normally experience due to Alpha-1), it is vital that you self-isolate yourself for a minimum of 7 days. This means you must not leave your house, even for groceries. If you live with others, they should stay at home for 14 days from when the first person began showing symptoms. For more information on self-isolation at home and how to cope, see the NHS’s website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/.
It is important that you do not go to the GP or hospital unless you cannot cope with your symptoms. If you need medical advice, the NHS has set up an online 111 service dedicated solely to COVID-19, at https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/. If you cannot find the help you need using this online service, phone 111.
Unfortunately we cannot provide specific advice or guidance on individual situations regarding working from home or school attendance. If you are concerned for your health or the health of your loved ones, we encourage you to speak to your line manager or school.
Where can I find more updates on the current coronavirus situation?
This is a rapidly evolving pandemic, and information or advice may change daily. For updates on the current spread of the virus, visit the World Health Organization’s website .
Please also visit the resources listed below:
On the 21st March 2020 we held a ‘Ask Me Anything’ in our private FaceBook Group with Dr Nick Ruktanonchai who is a Lecturer in Geography at the University of Southampton, and has worked on modelling the spread of COVID-19 globally using human movement data to predict viral transmission. His work using BEARmod (Basic Epidemic Activity and Response model, https://github.com/wpgp/BEARmod to quantify the effectiveness of government interventions such as quarantining and lockdowns (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.03.20029843v3) has been featured in international news articles and radio interviews (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/research-finds-huge-impact-of-interventions-on-spread-of-covid-19, https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/03/16/toronto-residents-urged-to-stay-home-amid-evidence-covid-19-is-spreading-locally.html), and is currently being used by the European CDC to predict the spread of COVID-19.
Below are the Questions that were posed to him and his answers:
Q. How likely us it to catch it through mail/parcels?
A. I think the current estimates are that the virus lives on surfaces for less than 4-6 hours… so you won’t get it from the person who sent it, but it’s possible if the person delivering the post is infected, but not super likely if it’s been sitting in your landing before you grab it.
Q. Do you know if it is also associated without a fever/high temp?
A. Yes, somewhere around 10-20% of cases don’t have a fever, though it’s the most common symptom. Here’s a useful graph for that:
yeah, it’s not as common to have it without fever, but it definitely happens! I have a couple of the rarer symptoms as well
Q. A lot of our members, myself will be self isolating, however will have partners and family who have to go out to work. I understand the requirements of social distansing, however what precautions can be taken by them before they enter the house. (For example my wife is going to have to use public transport, but how can she minimise any risk?)
A. Good question! It’s definitely a continuum, and while it’s often impossible to reduce all contact, anything you can do to reduce contact helps. When taking public transport, if it’s possible to simply keep distance from others (if the public transport isn’t busy), that will make a huge difference.
Also, avoiding touching your face when you’re near others helps a lot–we do it a lot subconsciously but if you can try to think about it when in transit specifically, that can make it easier to stop.
And, of course, washing hands before/after!
Q. I take it if a person is tested and shows negative at that point in time , then they will have to have regular test to make sure thats the y done have the virus
A. That depends on the policies around testing, which aren’t totally clear to me… but I imagine (just having used the NHS’ website) that if you tested negative once, and then showed symptoms again and fell into a group they test, they’d want to test you again.
Q. Whats the current thinking about inter species jump of the virus or back with ,mammalian pets?
A. very unlikely! When viruses jump between species, it tends to happen between known shared hosts that have some kind of shared biology that the virus takes advantage of. For example influenza shares human hosts with pigs and birds fairly frequently, but not many other animals. I don’t think there’s any viruses like coronavirus that have jumped to humans from dogs or cats (or vice versa).
Q. Does your modelling show country’s that have intergenerational living , having a higher level of virus spread
A. This is a GREAT question that we don’t know the answer to. Towards the end of the epidemic in China, because people were staying home, there was definitely more family clusters than anything… I could see a similar thing happening in the UK, where new cases are typically caused by people spreading it within their family. Granted, this is a (relatively) good thing, because it means they’re only spreading it within their family, rather than to the broader community, but multigenerational households could become an important factor!
Q. Are the daily worldwide country figures using the same types of data , seems german has high level of virus reordered but low death rate , are they using different data or reasons of death?
A. There are various reasons for this, a lot having to do with testing rates… the reasons of death don’t differ very much (as far as I know), but the UK is not testing most people for example (including myself), so they won’t have as many cases as other countries.
The good news is that means in many countries, the fatality rate is actually lower than it looks. For example, the current fatality rate in the UK is 4.4%, but in South Korea (where they really aggressively tested everyone) it is more like 1%. Because South Korea caught more people infected than the UK is catching, it’s likely the fatality rate is more like 1% than 4.4%.
That said, there are still some differences between countries that can make the fatality rate vary. For example, Italy’s population is generally older than many countries’, so their fatality rate has been higher than most.
Q. Any similarity with this spread and that of the 1918 Spanish flu after ww1 when mass troop movement back home occurred?
A. I don’t know much about the spread of spanish flu but if I had to guess COVID-19 spread much faster with air travel and global commerce nowadays! Epidemic preparedness will be a big topic in the coming years because that global connectedness means these sorts of events could happen again.
A. Yes, unfortunately so. It’s slightly different because Italy is generally older than the UK, so will have more deaths per 1000 cases than the UK, but the data are accurate. Hopefully the lockdowns prevent the next 14 days looking similar, though!
Q. I live in a block of flats 40 in total. The bin cupboard is outside on the ground floor within a locked area. At present I am washing my hands before I go using my body to push in doors but It have to open lid of recycling bin it’s huge. Then I come back using the stairs again. After entering my home I wash hands immediately and spray outside handle of door. Our figures for those infected here are beginning to rise pretty quick now. Should I at some point not risk taking my rubbish out?
A. If you aren’t getting in direct contact with anyone on the way and you’re careful not to touch your face much while you’re putting out the rubbish, that sounds like you’re really minimizing your risk of transmission. The virus wouldn’t be floating in the air (unless you’re in the direct path of a cough anyway!), it would be stuck to surfaces like the bin lids–in which case, the only way it makes it to you is if your hands touch the bin lid, then touch your nose/mouth, without a hand washing in between.
Alpha-1 Awareness would very much like to thank Dr Nick Ruktanonchai for giving his time to answer a few questions given by our members.
Please be aware that we are not medically trained and are unable to give medical advice.
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