Your Coronavirus Questions answered with Dr Ellie Cannon

Although there’s still a lot to learn about coronavirus, a new illness that affects the lungs and airways, there’s still plenty that we do know – including how to help protect yourself. We sat down with GP Dr Ellie Cannon to discuss what everyone should know about the virus – here’s what she had to say.

Advice from Dr Ellie

Watch this short video from GP Dr Ellie Cannon answering your questions about coronavirus.

Can you tell us more about this new strain of coronavirus?

Coronavirus is actually the name of a very common group of viruses, which includes the common coughs and colds that most of us will have picked up during the winter months. The difference with this particular strain of coronavirus – known as COVID-19 – is that it is a new strain of the virus that hasn’t previously been seen in humans before the first cases appeared in China at the end of 2019. 

The main symptoms of this strain of coronavirus are:

  • A fever
  • A dry cough
  • Shortness of breath

Patients may also have typical viral symptoms such as tiredness, aches and pains.


How does COVID-19 spread?

COVID-19 is thought to be spread through respiratory droplets, just like other coronaviruses... If someone with the virus coughs or sneezes, it can be passed on to people who are in close contact. It can also be spread if these droplets land on an object or surface, and someone touches it and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.


How can you protect yourself from COVID-19?


The best way to prevent the spread of the virus when you’re out of the home is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water – any kind of soap will do – making sure to concentrate on the parts that can easily get missed, like the fingertips and thumbs. 

If you don’t have access to a sink, hand sanitiser will also do the trick. Always wash your hands when you get to work, when you get home and before you eat – and, as difficult as it may be to break the habit, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible. 

Social distancing is also encouraged to slow the spread of the virus. This means reducing face-to-face interactions wherever possible, such as avoiding large public events, working from home, limiting travel on public transport and even avoiding shaking hands with people. 


How long can COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

We don’t know for sure how long this particular strain of coronavirus can survive on surfaces for, but from other coronaviruses, we know that they can last anything from a few hours to a few days. The only way to get rid of the virus is to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces, particularly focusing on those high traffic areas that are touched very frequently, such as light switches, door handles, taps and remote controls.

Cleaning will remove visible dirt from your surfaces whilst disinfectants will kill the viruses and bacteria on them, so it’s important to regularly clean and disinfect your home, making sure to follow the on-pack instructions to ensure that you’re using products effectively. 


Should we be worried about COVID-19?

Although it can be easy to get caught up in the panic, it’s important to remember that most people who develop the virus will get a mild illness, stresses Dr Ellie. Instead of worrying about it, everyone should be focusing on taking action. Make sure that you are…

  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

  • Using hand sanitiser if soap and water are unavailable

  • Avoiding close contact with ill people

  • Covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and disposing of used tissues immediately

  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth

  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in the home, especially focusing on high traffic areas that are touched more often.

Coronavirus is an evolving situation, so for up-to-date advice, keep an eye on the Public Health England website.

You can find out more about COVID-19 and Zoflora on our Coronavirus FAQs page here.