Older people who are worried about COVID-19 (coronavirus) are being advised to stay calm and to follow the relevant preventative measures, in order to reduce their risk of contracting the illness.
According to ALONE, the charity that supports older people to age at home, viruses such as COVID-19 can pose more of a threat to older people, who may have compromised immune systems or pre-existing health conditions.
"Some 45% of the people who use ALONE's services are over the age of 80, and understandably, outbreaks such as this can be very worrying.
"Over the next few days, ALONE's services will be reaching out to older people in the community who may be vulnerable or concerned, to offer them the support and advice that they need. We are also reaching out to the HSE to coordinate our response," explained ALONE chief executive, Sean Moynihan.
ALONE advises the following precautions in order to reduce the general risk of acute respiratory infections while out and about:
-Wash hands regularly, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment
-Avoid close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections or other illnesses.
-Individuals with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and wash hands).
"It is important that older people follow all HSE guidelines and take all preventative measures as recommended - wash your hands regularly and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of bacteria.
"It is also important that individuals of all ages, though they may not be among vulnerable groups themselves, remember to be conscious of their potential to spread coronavirus and other winter illnesses, and to take similar precautions," Mr Moynihan insisted.
Covid-19 is spread through close contact with an infected person's body fluids (e.g. droplets from coughing or sneezing), or by touching surfaces that an infected person has coughed or sneezed on.
It can take up to 14 days for symptoms of the virus to show. These may include a cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties and fever (high temperature).
COVID-19 can also cause more severe illnesses, including pneumonia and severe breathing difficulties.
Anyone who has been to an affected region (mainland China, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Iran and northern Italy) in the last 14 days AND is experiencing symptoms, should self-isolate and call their GP.
Anyone who has been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days AND is experiencing symptoms should immediately self-isolate and call their GP.
For more information on COVID-19, click here or here.
Older people with concerns about their own wellbeing, or anyone who is worried about the wellbeing of a vulnerable older person in the community, can contact ALONE by calling 0818 222 024. See also the ALONE website here.
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