Infectious diseases expert uses Facebook post to issue advice about spread of coronavirus

People, some wearing protective face masks, walk over London Bridge, as the number of coronavirus cases worldwide continues to grow, in London, Britain, March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Commuters walk over London Bridge on Monday as the spread of coronavirus continues (Reuters)

An infectious diseases experts has used a Facebook post to issue advice to the British public about the spread of coronavirus.

Stuart Neil, Stuart Neil, a professor of virology and head of the department of infectious diseases at King’s College London, said he wanted to “help dispel some myths” about Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

In a post on the north London-based Your Amersham Facebook page, he wrote: “The most important things we can do to limit virus spread are the basics.

Professor Stuart Neil, from King's College London, used Facebook to issue his advice about coronavirus (Picture: BBC)
Professor Stuart Neil, from King's College London, used Facebook to issue his advice about coronavirus (Picture: BBC)

“But it means everyone needs to play their part and take responsibility for their individual actions.”

Prof Neil said this meant washing hands “thoroughly and often”. He said “soap and hot water is the best”.

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He added: “If you can, carry alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Anti-bacterial handwashes are not effective.”

He advised anyone with cold or flu symptoms, no matter how mild, to stay at home until they have cleared up, and to avoid contact with vulnerable and elderly people.

“The vast majority of all of us under 60 will only get a mild disease, with maybe a few days in bed with a fever,” he said.

“While fever and dry cough are the major symptoms, we now suspect that most younger people will only get sniffs and sneezes. Despite these mild and in some cases trivial symptoms , these people will be shedding a lot of infectious virus.

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“That is why it is very important to stay home if you have any cold-like feelings. It is the risk you pose to the vulnerable that is the worry rather than your health. Also kids do get the virus. But their symptoms will be very mild to non-existent.”

He said the majority of vulnerable people who contract the virus will get better.

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“However, they will have more pronounced symptoms, the most serious being breathing difficulties,” he added.

“Pre-existing conditions are the biggest risk factor for serious illness. Cardiovascular disease, COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and diabetes being the most serious.

“But remember, people being treated for cancer or who have had organ transplants will not have the immune system of you or I.

Empty shelves in a store in London as shoppers stockpile basic consumer goods for fears of a potential quarantine due to an outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19)  on March 16, 2020 in London, UK. (Photo by Robin Pope/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Empty shelves in a supermarket in London as shoppers stockpile items during the coronavirus outbreak (Getty Images)

“These are the people we must protect, and we can all do this by being sensible and using common sense.”

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He advised the public not to “bother the doctors” unless in an at-risk group or if they develop breathing difficulties.

He said: “Go to bed, take paracetamol, drink plenty of fluid and fruit juice and rest. Don’t go out until your symptoms have disappeared entirely.

“Other than that there is little you can do to prevent infection. The healthier you stay, the quicker it will go. Vaccine trials are already starting but don’t expect anything for a year at the very least.”

Prof Neil warned against panic-buying, saying: “Emptying supermarket shelves actually makes shortages more likely.”