Health

Coronavirus: Reassuring pregnancy advice with Dr Phillipa

Pregnancy can be an anxious time for many mums-to-be, but with the coronavirus pandemic in full force, it’s leaving expectant mothers in turmoil.

With the news that women are having to attend scans alone and home births have been cancelled, we’re joined by one anxious mother, Gemma Summers, who is terrified of giving birth later this month, and Dr Phillipa joins us to explain more about the latest guidelines and reassure expectant mums.

Dr Zoe: How I recovered from coronavirus

Last week our resident doctor Zoe joined us live from her home where she and her boyfriend were self-isolating after showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Well Dr Zoe came out of self-isolation yesterday, and today she was back to work, answering your questions about coronavirus.

Dr Zoe revealed: “I’m on day 10 and I was back to work yesterday in the practice, although most of the consultations were over the telephone and I’m feeling almost back to normal. Just still wouldn’t go for a run, wouldn’t exercise because I’m still not completely back to full strength, but no more infective symptoms at all.”

Zoe continued: “Working in my clinic yesterday, everything is different. I can’t send patients for routine blood tests, I can’t send patients for routine x-rays, I can’t refer a patient. I saw a patient that had a hernia, I can’t do a routine referral for that patient to have their surgery.”

On her recovery, Dr Zoe admitted: “I think it’s a slow recovery and certainly from my own experience… having self-isolated for seven days, I needed that time to recover. So even though my fever and my cough subsided after two days, actually I was sleeping for 12 hours a night still. I was achy and just exhausted.”

Speaking about those seriously affected by the virus and who will need ventilation support, Zoe advised: “If I use myself as an example, I’m on day 10 from when I first got symptoms, but I probably caught this five days before that. If I was going to be one of those unfortunate people that needed a ventilator, today would be the day I would need it. So that’s 15 days after I picked up the virus. So our actions today… are affecting who is going to need a ventilator in 15 days’ time.”

Your NHS Needs You! Call for retired medics to help Covid-19 fight

Tens of thousands of retired doctors and nurses have been told "Your NHS Needs You" as they were called on to return to work to help battle coronavirus.

The health service hopes that as many as 65,000 retired medics will roll up their sleeves to help tackle the "greatest global health threat in history".

It comes as it emerged that other retired emergency service workers could also be called on to return to action.

Coronavirus: Advice for pregnant women

In the Prime Minister's briefing on Monday, he encouraged everyone to avoid all non-essential social contact, but made particular mention of pregnant women, describing it as a precautionary measure because we are early in our understanding.

Dr Sara is 30 weeks pregnant, but wanted to still join us in the studio.

What happens when you have coronavirus?

WHAT IS CORONAVIRUS?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses causing illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

The Covid-19 strand originated in Wuhan, China. It causes respiratory issues and can be fatal.

HOW TO AVOID CORONAVIRUS

NHS advice to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus is:

DO

- 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 straight away and wash your hands afterwards

- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

DO NOT

- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Coronavirus is circulating at the same time as winter coughs, colds and seasonal flu, so it can be difficult to tell them apart.

Covid-19 symptoms include:

- Dry cough

- Fever and tiredness

- Shortness of breath

- Muscle pain

The World Health Organisation adds that while the most common symptoms are fever, tiredness, and dry cough, symptoms can also include aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea.

Since these symptoms are those for a variety of illnesses, such as commons colds and flu, if you have them you do not necessarily have Covid-19.

HOW THE SYMPTOMS CAN GET WORSE

Public Health England (PHE) say the virus may progress to more severe illnesses, such as pneumonia - the inflammation of the lungs and the tiny sacs where oxygen moves from the air to the blood filling with water - and ultimately organ failure.

Older patients and those with underlying health conditions are more likely to progress to severe disease.

WHAT THE VIRUS DOES TO YOUR ORGANS

Dr Simon Clarke, associate professor in cellular microbiology at the University of Reading says patients face a "dual-track" of damage from Covid-19:

- The cilia - the tiny hair-like structures that line the airways in the lungs which protect the airways and help remove excess mucus - of an infected person can stop working, leading to more mucus settling on the lungs than usual

- Damage is also caused by an "overly exuberant immune response", which is common with all sorts of infectious diseases. Quite often the damage that is done during an infection is done by the patient's own immune system over-reacting to the infection.

The virus can also attack the kidneys - and, in some cases, the blood vessels and circulation.

THE RECOVERY PROCESS

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses, and treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

The NHS advice is to stay in isolation and away from other people until you've recovered.

Work is being done to create a vaccine, but one is weeks, if not months, away.

Dr Simon Clarke advises, "Most of us need bed rest and paracetamol. In extreme cases you can be ventilated in hospital if you are having trouble breathing.

"If you go into hospital, they'll keep you topped up with fluids and make sure your electrolytes are OK."

"The key is treating the symptoms and trying to alleviate some of the symptoms but there is no way of helping your body eradicate the infection like there would be if you had a bacterial infection."