(Updated 26th March 2020 09:31am)
The worldwide spread of coronavirus is a rapidly evolving situation and one which Ilfracombe Town Counci are working on with our One Ilfracombe partners, the NHS, Devon County Council, North Devon Council, One Northern Devon and other public services, local businesses, groups and organisations to develop and deliver local contingencies.
The Town Council and One Ilfracombe teams are meeting daily (virtually) to discuss the potential risks and impacts and are well-prepared to respond to any potential incident either directly or through our partners who we continue to work with closely to share and communicate accurate information in a timely manner.
What is coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world but this is a new strain which has developed called COVID-19.
What are the signs and symptoms?
The symptoms are a high temperature and a new, continuous cough but can also include sneezing and shortage of breath.
In some cases, this may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
How does coronavirus spread?
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets or sneeze droplets.
How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors, for example:
- what surface the virus is on (e.g: hard or soft)
- whether it is exposed to sunlight
- differences in temperature and humidity
- exposure to cleaning products
Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours, and even more so by 48 hours.
Stay at home guidance for everyone
Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions. You can only leave your home:
- to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
- to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
- for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
- to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary
To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than two people.
There are only two exceptions to this rule where the gathering is:
- of a group of people who live together
- essential for work purposes
Advice for households showing symptoms
The main messages are:
- if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. (The ending isolation section below has more information)
- if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. See the explanatory diagram
- for anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period. The ending isolation section below has more information, and see the explanatory diagram
- it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
- if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
- if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
- if you have coronavirus symptoms:
– do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
– you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
– testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
- plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household
- ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
- wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
- if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
How to shield the most vulnerable
Those in extremely vulnerable groups are at very high risk of severe illness as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) requiring admission to hospital. Shielding is a practice used to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with coronavirus.
You are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive your letter. Please note that this period of time could change.
Visits from people who provide essential support to you such as healthcare, personal support with your daily needs or social care should continue, but carers and care workers must stay away if they have any of the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). You may find this guidance on home care provision useful. All people coming to your home should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds on arrival to your house and often while they are there.
You should have an alternative list of people who can help you with your care if your main carer becomes unwell. You can also contact your local council for advice on how to access care.
If you think you have developed symptoms of COVID-19 such as a new, continuous cough or fever, seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.
If you have someone else living with you, they are not required to adopt these protective shielding measures for themselves. They should do what they can to support you in shielding and they should stringently follow guidance on social distancing, reducing their contact outside the home. If you care for but don’t actually live with someone who is extremely vulnerable, you should still stringently follow guidance on social distancing.
What else can I do to stop the infection spreading?
The best way to protect ourselves from infections like coronavirus is to wash our hands frequently for 20 seconds with soap and water or use a sanitiser gel, as well as always carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, then putting the tissue in a bin.
There are things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading:
- always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel
- stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people if you need to go outside
- wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands