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Things we've learnt from doctors on the front-line

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Coronavirus test. Stock image

Coronavirus test. Stock image

Coronavirus test. Stock image

Every day brings new insights into the coronavirus that swept into our lives less than a month ago and has caused a public health emergency and global mayhem.

Front-line doctors and scientists in Ireland are benefiting from the generous sharing of information from colleagues in countries like Italy and China. Here are some of those findings.

Obesity

According to unpublished data provided by Italian doctors, the mean age of all Covid-19 patients is 70, and one of the major risk factors for admission to intensive care is obesity.

Stefan De Hert, of Ghent University Hospital in Belgium, said: "Although it is mostly more serious in older patients, those less than 50 years old without underlying conditions seem to constitute one in every five of the Covid-19 intensive care patients."

Female patients

Dr de Hert said infected women seem to develop fewer symptoms than men, and also children seem to experience the infection without important clinical problems.

Warm climate

Hot and humid Singapore was hit early by the coronavirus but has managed to reduce outbreaks. It shows how the virus can strike in warm climates.

Singapore's success has been deemed to be more to do with its aggressive action, including an enforced home quarantine system and an exhaustive contact-tracing programme, than the sun.

It highlights how we should not be pinning our hopes solely on a good summer in Ireland to get rid of the virus.

The virus and children

Children and young adults have been infected with coronavirus, though at a lower rate than older adults.

While the vast majority have experienced mild illness, some have suffered more severe or critical disease. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is aware of some young adults and one child dying.

Isolation rooms

The WHO said confirmed cases should be isolated in health facilities to prevent transmission and provide adequate care.

But it recognises that many countries have exceeded their capacity to care for mild cases in dedicated health facilities.

It said the most effective way to prevent virus infections and save lives is breaking the chain of transmission. And to do that you must test and isolate.

In Ireland there will be a mix of patients in hospital and in isolation facilities, such as hotels and public buildings, as well home self-isolation for those with a mild illness.

Home self-isolation

The WHO said ideally assign one person to care for the patient who is self-isolating at home.

They should be in good health and have no underlying conditions.

The care giver should wash their hands after every contact with the patient and their immediate environment.