A to Z of Coronavirus

April 30th, 2020 General Optometry | General Pharmacy | Health No Comments

Here’s MLC’s rundown of some important coronavirus terms plus a few more light-hearted ones:

A is for Asthma

According to the NHS, people with asthma are at higher risk from coronavirus. Asthma affects around 5.4 million people in the UK with 1 in 12 adults receiving medication for the disease. A snippet of good news for asthma sufferers is that lockdown has resulted in lower air pollution (a decrease of more than 40% according to the University of York) which is great for sensitive airways. However, being cooped up at home may mean that sufferers are more exposed to house dust mites, mould spores or pet dander that also aggravates the condition.

C is for Coronavirus

Coronavirus is a large family of viruses that were first identified in the 1960s. Whilst most coronaviruses circulate among animals, some infect humans. However, unlike SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19, most coronaviruses only cause mild symptoms. Coronaviruses make up around 25% of illnesses we refer to as the common cold. 

D is for Delivery Service

Many pharmacies are using delivery services to get prescriptions to people who are having to isolate themselves. Prescription delivery services allow people who are in the high-risk categories so need to remain at home. But the service isn’t without its own complications risks. Pharmacies need to ensure they delegate to responsible volunteers or 

E is for Epidemiology

Epidemiology is the branch of medicine that looks at how disease – and other factors affecting health – spreads through a population. It also provides an analysis of how to plan against epidemics.

F is for Face Touching

Never before have we been more aware of how many times we touch our faces. Studies have shown that people touch their faces roughly 23 times per hour – and more frequently during times of stress. Avoiding touching our faces helps prevent any pathogen, including the coronavirus, from infecting us through the mucus membranes of our eyes, nose and mouth.

H is for Hand Hygiene

Do you sing Happy birthday whilst washing your hands? Proper hand hygiene isn’t a new thing for healthcare professionals as hand washing prevents the spread of viruses, bacteria, other pathogens and contaminants. But proper handwashing techniques were a revelation to the majority of the public. Washing with soap is particularly effective against viruses as it dissolves the fat membrane holding the virus together.

I is for Incubation Period

The incubation period of a virus is the time between infection and the onset of symptoms and is an important factor in controlling the spread of disease. The incubation period for COVID-19 is currently understood to be about 4.2 days.

J is for Joe Wicks

Joe Wicks, the nation’s PE teacher, is live every weekday morning on YouTube to help keep us fit and active. Other YouTubers helping us through lockdown include Maddie Moate and Greg Foot with their daily educational show for homeschooled kids.

K is for Key Workers

Key workers are providing the essential services that are keeping the country running. From delivery drivers to healthcare professionals to people who stack supermarket shelves, the roles the key workers perform aren’t glamorous and are often low paid. The median average full-time salary in the UK is around £30k but a significant number of key workers earn nowhere near this much. Care-home workers, shop assistants and people working in the food industry are among the lowest-paid keyworkers.

L is for Lockdown

Lockdown is the term commonly used to describe the current social distancing measures. Prior to this pandemic, the term was used in more acute situations such as confining inmates to their cells during prison riots or by the police during manhunts for dangerous individuals. 

M is for Mental Health

Whilst lockdown is here to protect our physical health, it’s not doing much for our mental health. Anxiety and stress regarding the pandemic already make us feel vulnerable. But the lack of exercise and human contact can really exasperate any unwanted thoughts and emotions. The NHS has some simple advice on how to look after your mental wellbeing during lockdown. 

N is for N95 or FFP3 Face Masks

The N95/FFP3 is a fitted respirator that filters out up to 95% of airborne particles and is the most effective commonly available face mask against contracting airborne illnesses. The N95/FFP3 face masks are in great demand and therefore are only for use by healthcare workers dealing with COVID-19 patients.

O is for Online Shopping

If you can get a delivery slot, that is. Online grocery shopping with the big supermarkets has exploded as people seek to limit leaving their homes even for food. But there are plenty of local business shopping opportunities too. Local wholesalers, who would otherwise be supplying restaurant and school kitchens, have swapped to home deliveries with a speed of adaptation that would make Darwin blush.

P is for Pandemic

A pandemic is a disease outbreak that affects multiple countries or continents. Local outbreaks may reach epidemic proportions if the disease affects large numbers of people. The WHO is responsible for declaring disease outbreaks as pandemics.

Q is for Quarantine

Quarantines are periods of isolation used to stop the spreads of diseases. Quarantines work if the period of isolation is greater than the incubation period of a disease. The word ‘quarantine’ comes from 40 days ships had to wait in isolation in 15th Century Italy during the Black Death epidemic.

R is for R0

R0 or ‘R nought’ is a number that describes how contagious an infectious disease would be without any intervention. An R0 of 2 suggests that every infected person will likely infect two other people. The R0 of COVID-19 is between 5 and 6. Therefore, the aim of interventions is to reduce the effective R0 to below 1.

S is for Social Distancing

Social distancing is one of the lockdown measures that’s helping to limit the spread of the coronavirus. 

T is for Toilet Roll

It’s hard to be surprised by the behaviour of some humans since the internet was invented but the toilet roll thing was bemusing. No one knows why toilet roll became the target of panic buying amid a respiratory-disease pandemic but it did. 

U is for Underlying Conditions

‘Underlying conditions’ is a term we’re hearing too much regarding the victims of COVID-19. It refers to chronic or long-term medical conditions that limit a person’s ability to fight disease. People with underlying conditions, such as heart and lung disease or diabetes, are more likely to experience worse symptoms or complications were they to develop COVID-19. 

V is for Volunteers

Extraordinary circumstances bring out the extraordinary in people. Over 1 million people responded to the call from the NHS for ‘social’ volunteers, far exceeding the 250,000 originally requested. 

W is for Working From Home

Sadly, working from home isn’t an option for many businesses and their employees. But many workers – who may have previously been told by their employer that working from home was not an option for their role – are now enjoying a more informal work environment of pyjamas, unlimited tea and optional showers.

Z is for Zoom

Zoom is a video messaging service from Microsoft. Despite some questions over how secure it is, it has become an important lifeline for staying in contact with friends and family – and unfortunately your boss too.


This post was written on behalf of My Locum Choice by Nicola Hasted of Pharmacy Mentor.


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