Can you briefly explain what COVID-19 is?
The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 has been named Coronavirus Disease 2019 and abbreviated COVID-19. We first saw this virus in late 2019 in Wuhan, China. SARS-CoV-2 is a Betacoronavirus, like MERS coronavirus and SARS coronavirus. And all 3 have their origin in bats. [MERS-CoV likely jumped from bats to dromedary camels in the distant past before appearing in humans.]
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include aches and pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but only have very mild symptoms.
Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing hospital treatment. Around 1 out of every 5 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart and lung problems, diabetes, or cancer, are at higher risk of developing serious illness.
However, anyone can catch COVID-19 and become seriously ill. People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated withdifficulty breathing/shortness of breath, chest pain/pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical attention immediately. If possible, it is recommended to call the health care provider or facility first, so the patient can be directed to the right clinic.
Example of COVID-19 Interview Question 2020/21
What are the Likely Long Term Implications of COVID-19 on the NHS?
This is an extremely open-ended question, and you have the opportunity to pursue many avenues of answer. As a general guide, we have outlined the likely long-term implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the NHS. Again, you should try to avoid discussing financial implications in great detail, as assessors want to see your understanding of the NHS system in relation to healthcare and patient well-being.
The first long-term complication is in regards to the virus itself. At the current moment of writing, no successful vaccine exists for the virus; thus, it is likely that hospitals will have to employ long-term measures for continual treatment of patients with COVID-19. This may include dedicated wards for COVID-19 patients only, or entire isolated sections of the hospital building. In turn, this will continue the stress and strain on the NHS as discussed above. Logically, it is likely that much NHS funding will be directed towards research and experimentation for a potential vaccine, which could redirect funding from elsewhere in the NHS - this would have its own complications, but as it is a matter of financial and political discussion, focus should not be spent there in great depth. Should a vaccine be found and successfully approved, the following long-term implication is that the NHS will have to redirect efforts to distributing the vaccine to as much of the population as physically possible; this means that hospitals, GPs and other health professionals will be focused on administering the vaccine, beginning with high risk groups, to allow normality in society once more.
There is also a likely long-term implication on routine and other urgent care within the NHS outside of COVID-19. First and foremost, all ‘routine’ appointments and operations were cancelled for the foreseeable future; this means many patients are left in the middle of treatment or in pain as a result of treatment being cancelled. The doctors and nurses on these wards and clinics have been redeployed into Intensive Care Units (ICU) and COVID-19 wards, with their sole focus on helping deal with the demand on the NHS that COVID-19 has brought about. Once these clinics and operations are allowed to resume, these doctors and nurses are likely to still be required on the COVID-19 wards, meaning that there will be staff shortages on other wards. In addition, there is likely to be an extremely long waiting list and backlog of patients that will need to be attended to. There will be implications as to how patients will be seen - will it be “first come first serve” or will there be a system required for fairly organising patients to return?
Regardless of this, the face of routine medicine will most definitely change in the long-term too; there are likely to be far fewer face-to-face consultations, and any that do take place will be carried out under heavy PPE to avoid risks of transmission. This will raise long-term implications within the NHS that doctors and healthcare professionals may not be able to build the trust and rapport through normal communication, and may need to resort to other measures, such as videos, pictures and other diagrams - it will result in a big shift in the way medicine was traditionally undertaken.
On a wider view, the NHS will likely reduce their focus on “fringe” healthcare such as domiciliary visits to carehomes and those unable to leave their houses. This will result in this portion of the population having longer waiting times to be seen by a medical professional, which could in turn lead to further health complications for them. Again, on a wider viewpoint, the NHS may choose to nationalise the COVID-19 response in the long-term; sites such as The Nightingale Hospital, for example, may become the central COVID-19 hub for all of South-East England. The NHS may choose to refer all COVID-19 cases to one specific site in order to allow normal function of other hospitals to resume. This will undoubtedly have a financial impact, but it will also stretch the thin NHS staff across multiple sites, making their jobs harder and more stressful.
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