The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has now reached British shores and the virus has now mutated to a more aggressive form. The Private Harley Street Clinic has assembled the best advice to boost your immune system and protect yourself from infection. In short, keep calm and be proactive about your health.
Maintaining a strong immune system and fastidious hygiene is the best way to protect yourself from the Coronavirus infection. In this time of rapid transmission of the virus, we need to take an increased level of individual responsibility for ourselves and for others.
The virus is spread by droplets expelled during coughing and sneezing which can live on surfaces for up to 4 days. So transmission can occur either by direct droplet transfer when in close proximity to an infected individual or by touching a surface which has been infected by the virus.
Good hygiene when coughing and sneezing is therefore paramount. And this applies in both the case where someone is infected as well as close proximity to someone who may be infected. This means preventing droplet spread by coughing or sneezing into a tissue and immediately disposing of it as well as washing one’s hands regularly with soap. Spread may occur by touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes with your hands so frequent hand washing by all throughout the day cannot be overemphasised. Cleaning surfaces that may be infected is recommended and washing one’s hands before eating or drinking in public places and at home is good hygiene practice.
Take sensible measures when in public
Keep a safe distance over 6 feet away from anyone who appears to be coughing or sneezing. Avoid shaking hands or kissing when greeting others. Don’t share cups, bottles, pencils or pens. Likewise, if you think you may have been infected or develop symptoms, please take a considerate approach and seek advice via 111 as well as taking precautions by self isolating until given the all clear.
Avoiding crowds and congested areas like the Tube in rush hour is sensible but that may not be possible, in which case, you should consider using a mask for that limited period of travel or close interaction. There is a sixfold chance of infection in crowded public transport areas as these are perfect conditions for the virus to thrive. Bear in mind that a typical surgical mask only offers protection until it becomes moist which is about 30 minutes, after which it is no longer protective as the virus latches on to the moisture and can pass through the mask. The Surgeon General of the USA has urged people not to stockpile masks in order to preserve them for medical workers; we agree with this advice but we would advocate limited use of properly fitting face masks in those circumstances when one cannot avoid crowds or congested areas like the Tube in rush hour. Above all, be fastidious about hygiene when travelling, use a hand sanitiser frequently and avoid touching surfaces whenever possible. This is potentially the time of maximum exposure to the virus.
There is no vaccine available at present so maintaining and boosting your immune system is vital as this is your mechanism of protection against this virus and other pathogens. In addition to protection against viruses, the benefits of a strong immune system are that you will experience fewer colds and infections as well as helping to protect against developing chronic diseases. One can do this by observing simple rules such as a good diet, exercise and getting enough sleep. Try not to get run down or fatigued and avoid hangovers or extreme exposure to extreme cold.
The integrity and strength of the immune system relies on the presence of specific vitamins, minerals and nutrients in your diet and can be significantly impaired by the deficiency of just one vital nutrient so its important to maintain a healthy, balanced and truly nutritious diet including foods such citrus fruits, broccoli and spinach.
If you have any doubt?
As per the current Government and NHS advice, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
- You feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
- Your condition gets worse
- Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
You can use the online NHS Coronavirus service HERE.