Last Updated: 07/08/20 at 13:10
Coronavirus is the name given to a group of viruses that can cause you to feel unwell. Sometimes you might have symptoms similar to a cold or flu, but the COVID-19 virus that is currently being talked about has also led to serious illness and death.
It can be scary hearing about what's happening around the world, but there are some things you can do to help prevent yourself from catching the virus, stop the spread of it to others, and look after your mental health if you're feeling anxious or worried about it.
1. It's OK to be worried
It's totally normal to be feeling a little anxious about what's going on right now, especially when things seem uncertain. Whilst it's important to take the NHS and government advice seriously and keep updated via official sources, it's OK if you need to take a break to look after your mental health. Take a look at our article about looking after your mental wellbeing during the outbreak for some more tips.
Also, NHS Inform have added a range of resources to their website to help people look after their mental health.
2. Remember FACTS
The Scottish Government have created a handy acronym to help us remember what to do, called FACTS. These stand for:
- Face coverings in enclosed spaces (as of 8th August, it's mandatory to wear face coverings in shops, museums, libraries, places of worship and on public transport)
- Avoid crowded places (for example, popular tourist spots like the beach)
- Clean hands and surfaces regularly
- Two metre distancing (except where businesses have relaxed this rule and taken specific precautions to reduce risk)
- Self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.
It's really important to remember to wash your hands regularly – especially after going to the toilet, after coughing or sneezing, after returning home and before eating food.
The handy video below from the NHS shows you how to wash your hands to the tune of 'Happy Birthday'!
3. Coughs and sneezes
If you feel a cough or sneeze coming, make sure you do it in a tissue. It prevents bacteria getting into the air and possibly spreading to someone else.
If you don't have tissues to hand and you're not going to be able to get a tissue on time, cough or sneeze into your sleeve at your elbow.
It's always a good idea to keep a pack of tissues on you, just in case!
4. Follow the guidance and self-isolate
The current advice states that if you have a new continuous cough, or a fever, or loss of/change in smell or taste that you should self-isolate for ten days and then reassess your symptoms - even if you don't think you have the coronavirus.
If you think you have coronavirus, book a test by going online to www.nhsinform.scot or call 0800 028 2816. You will be asked to self-isolate while the test is arranged and should continue to do so until you receive the results. You will receive the results of your test by text to the mobile phone of the person who booked the test, these should be received within 48 hours. If you test positive, you should follow the guidance on the NHS Inform website about self-isolating.
As part of this process, you will be asked to identify anyone you have come into close contact with. Specialist tracers will then get in touch with these people and instruct them to self-isolate for 14 days. This system aims to help stop the spread of coronavirus in communities as lockdown restrictions are eased in Scotland.
If you live with someone who has coronavirus, a new cough or a fever, or loss of/change in smell or taste or you have been contacted by NHS Contact Tracers to advise you've been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should self-isolate for 14 days (the 14 days starts from the day the person became ill).
Self-isolation means staying at home without having any contact with other people - which if you're living at home with parents or carers and possibly siblings, might mean sticking to your bedroom.
5. Avoid spreading the virus
You must wear a face covering in shops, libraries, museums, places of worship, on public transport and in public transport premises such as train stations.
Official reports have so far suggested that young people without underlying health issues are experiencing mostly mild symptoms and are recovering quickly. However that doesn't mean that if you think you have symptoms but feel OK you should go about your business.
Spreading the virus can be dangerous for older people and people with other health concerns such as asthma, diabetes and heart problems. Catching COVID-19 could be potentially fatal for someone in those circumstances, so make sure to follow the official advice.
When going outside or visiting friends and family it is really important that you do everything you can to avoid spreading the virus by:
- planning ahead by taking tissues, hand sanitiser and face coverings when you're out and about
- keeping at least two metres apart from people who live outside of your household (or extended household), this doesn't apply to children aged 11 and younger or in businesses that have taken appropriate precautions (signs should be present to advise on this)
- having good hand and cough hygiene (washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze)
- avoiding touching surfaces that other people have touched, for example by taking your own food and cutlery to a picnic, or cleaning surfaces regularly, for example after someone from a different household has touched a surface
- washing your hands for at least 20 seconds when you return home
Find out more about the different phases of exiting lockdown and what they mean.
6. Stick to the facts
Panic can be caused by seeing and sharing fake news - unfortunately there can be a lot of information out there that just isn't factual.
Whether it's on social media or other websites, make sure you're checking sources before sharing them yourself, and looking for at least two other similar accounts to what you've read or seen to make sure it's correct.
The best way to avoid fake news is to stick to the NHS Inform and Scottish Government websites for the latest news and updates.
7. Listen and support
At times like these, often the best thing that you can do is make sure you're listening to each other and supporting each other to get through a difficult time.
Whether in your local community, or amongst family and friends, remember that others might be going through a hard time too - and you can help by following the steps above.
More information from Young Scot on Coronavirus (COVID-19)