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About COVID-19

In this section, you will find key information to help you understand what exactly COVID-19 is, how to prevent it and where to look for the best advice.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a new strain of Coronaviruses that has not been previously identified in humans until 2019. These viruses can usually cause a range of illnesses from common colds to more severe respiratory syndromes.

What are the symptoms?

  • Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
  • In most cases, people who become infected experience only a mild illness and are able to recover with no difficulty. However, other people may be more severely affected by the virus, putting them at risk.

How to prevent the spread of the virus

In order to prevent yourself and others from becoming infected with COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) encourages citizens all over the world to implement the following basic measures:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based had sanitiser to kill viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Social distancing: try to maintain a metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Since the virus can be found in the droplets produced by coughing or sneezing, maintaining this distance is very important.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. If your hands are already contaminated, the virus might enter your system if you do not take this precaution.

Wearing masks. The World Health Organisation has indicated that wearing a mask cannot by itself completely protect an individual from becoming infected. Masks are not compulsory, and, in the UK and other destinations, masks are worn as a personal choice. As the advice is that they do not offer protection, the majority of the people in countries like the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and other popular university destinations chose not to wear masks. However, all will respect any individual’s choice to wear a mask.

  • Maintain a good level of respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth or nose when sneezing or coughing. Do not use your hand to cover your mouth but rather your elbow or a tissue. If you use a tissue, make sure that you immediately bin it.
  • If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 like persistent cough, high temperature or difficulty breathing please follow the directions of your local government authority.
  • Stay informed and follow the advice given by your local authority and health care provider.

If you are in or have recently visited a country where COVID-19 is spreading:

  • Follow the guidance outlined above
  • You should stay at home until you recover if you start to feel unwell. This will include any symptoms from a headache to a runny nose. By staying at home, you will help stop the spread of the virus and will prevent others from becoming infected.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice. You are encouraged to follow your local health provider and local government’s advice.