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Coronavirus: East London GP answers your questions about Covid-19

PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 14:16 16 March 2020

Dr Simi Adedeji in her practice in Dagenham. Picture: Ken Mears

Dr Simi Adedeji in her practice in Dagenham. Picture: Ken Mears

Ken Mears Photography

From how to protect yourself from the coronavirus when you have underlying health conditions to whether pets can get the disease, we put your questions about Covid-19 to an east London GP.

Dr Simi Adedeji in her practice in Dagenham. Picture: Ken MearsDr Simi Adedeji in her practice in Dagenham. Picture: Ken Mears

From how to protect yourself from the coronavirus when you have underlying health conditions to whether pets can get the disease, we put your questions about Covid-19 to an east London GP.

Dr Simi Adedeji works at a practice in Halbutt Street, Dagenham, as a GP and she also works as an aesthetic doctor.

After seeing the spread of misinformation around treatment of the coronavirus, Dr Adedeji started creating her own Youtube videos with information about Covid-19.

We put some of our readers’ questions about the virus to Dr Adedeji. Here’s what she had to say.

What can residents do to boost their immune system?

“It’s mostly general advice and just following a healthy lifestyle. It’s things like making sure you’ve got enough sleep. I wouldn’t necessarily say eight hours as everybody needs different amounts of time.

But making sure you’ve had enough sleep and that you’re feeling rested.

Also having a healthy diet, a diet that’s low in fat, sugar, avoiding processed food and having a good proportion of fruit, vegetables and fibre in your diet.

I think this is a fantastic time to quit smoking. Because we know that the coronavirus or Covid-19 is mainly a respiratory virus, so people that are smokers, even if they don’t actually have a lung condition, usually find it more difficult to clear viruses and infections.

Keeping a healthy weight, drinking alcohol in moderation - it’s all the things that you would usually do and also doing things that reduce your stress level because we know that high levels of stress affect immunity.”

To what extent do symptoms of the virus vary in people?

“It’s actually got a wide variation. There will be people that have mild symptoms or no symptoms and you’ll have people that have moderate symptoms and then severe.

On the mild end, people might not have any symptoms or they might just have a sore throat, maybe a slight cough.

With moderate symptoms you might see more fever, cough, maybe a little shortness of breath - again people can still carry on their day-to-day activities.

They might still be able to pick up the kids, go shopping and they wouldn’t necessarily think it’s coronavirus.

And then you’ve got the severe end of the spectrum; difficulty walking about, shortness of breath, fever headache and these are the people that are tending to end up with hospital admissions and then progressing to intensive care units.

We’re noticing that it’s people who are older that are suffering from the serve form of the disease and also people that have underlying health condition.

People that have for example chronic heart conditions, chronic lung conditions, chronic liver conditions, people who are already compromised in times of their immunity.”

What is your advice to people who have underlying health conditions?

“The advice is the same for everyone with a few modifications. This is a respiratory virus. It’s spread by droplet infections so coughing, sneezing, touching the droplets with your hands and then transferring either by rubbing the eyes, nose or mouth.

You want to be avoiding people who are displaying respiratory symptoms by making sure you’re really isolating yourself from people who are feeling unwell and washing your hands - that’s a huge part of stopping the spread of this.

Also it’s things like when you’re out and about practising social distancing. We talked about try not to hug people or shake hands. Just say hello or maybe just nod to acknowledge each other.

The distance that people are saying is about one metre, but I would just say try to avoid hugging and kissing and touching.

The other thing you mentioned is that you have people that have COPD that are worried. A lot of our COPD patients have a pack that contains antibiotics and steroids in case they run into problems with their breathing, and they can use that without necessarily coming to see their doctor.

Dr Simi Adedeji in her practice in Dagenham. Picture: Ken MearsDr Simi Adedeji in her practice in Dagenham. Picture: Ken Mears

I would advise that COPD patients make sure that they have these packs at home. It won’t protect you against the virus but it would treat an infection that’s not coronavirus, just to keep you healthy.”

Are newborn babies or children more at risk? Can pets catch the virus?

“From what we’re seeing about how the virus is behaving it’s actually looking like adults are more at risk than children and neonates [newborns].

I don’t have any data about neonates, but certainly we’re seeing that where children have tested positive (it’s not that children aren’t catching the coronavirus) it seems that they’re having either mild symptoms or no symptoms.

So it’s looking like adults are more at risk. In terms of pets we don’t have any data at the moment to show pets are being affected so it seems that they are safe for now.”

If you can’t get through to 111 and you feel critically ill what should you do?

“111 is also becoming overwhelmed because everyone is phoning in worried and the advice that they have given now is that people should be trying to go to 111 online first.

When you say critically ill, I think it means different things to different people. As a doctor I’m thinking in terms of shortness of breath, critically ill would be someone who is so short of breath that they can’t talk. They might feel like they are about to die.

We always advise with critical illness that you phone 999. For other people who have symptoms and are feeling unwell then they could call 111 via telephone.

What we don’t want people to do is to turn up at their GP surgeries or A&E where they would be possibility of transmitting the infection.

Phone for help or go online for help and help will come to you.”

What is your advice for people who are concerned about panic buying?

“I think I would summarise it as don’t panic, act now and stay safe. I can understand why people are panic buying but we have to think about it in a rational way and also as a community.

People are panic buying surgical masks and there’s now a shortage of these masks for healthcare professionals and they really need it to protect themselves and they need it to protect patients.

I’ve actually talked about this in the Youtube videos I’m doing to help educate people about Covid-19, as they don’t actually offer you the protection that you think are.

Dr Simi Adedeji in her practice in Dagenham. Picture: Ken MearsDr Simi Adedeji in her practice in Dagenham. Picture: Ken Mears

We all have to wash our hands in order to reduce transmission of the virus. If people can’t find soap or alcohol gel, then think about it from a community point of view. It’s not just yourself that needs to follow these infection control measures.

But I think it’s important that people should be prepared. Make sure you’ve got your ibuprofen or paracetamol, but there’s no need to out the stores.”

Dr Adedeji’s advice:

“One of the things that is standing out to me about this virus is a sense of social responsibility. We need to move away from thinking about ourselves.

For example if someone has symptoms but they’re well, it’s not okay to go out and socialise with other people because it’s possible that it could be Covid-19. We all have parents or grandparents. If you’ve passed on that virus to someone, they might be well but they can still interact with their grandparents and they could become severely unwell.

So it’s about looking at the community and population as a whole and not just thinking I feel well so it’s okay for me to go out and socialise.”

Follow our Facebook group for more updates on the coronavirus in east London.


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