Coronavirus: Can you catch Covid-19 twice?

13 March 2020, 14:16

By Fiona Jones

Can you catch coronavirus twice? How does Covid-19 spread? LBC asks the experts.

The number of cases of coronavirus in the UK has risen to 798 from 590 - a rise of 208 in the last 24 hours.

The Prime Minister has said Covid-19 "is the worst public health crisis for a generation" and warned "many more families are going to lose loved ones before their time" while the government's top scientist warned that up to 10,000 people in the UK are already infected.

Boris Johnson announced yesterday that the UK government has moved in to the "delay" phase of its plan to deal with coronavirus which has been officially labelled a "pandemic" by World Health Organisation.

Latest advice from the government:

- Self-isolation for seven days if you have a persistent cough or fever
- Even if you only have mild symptoms of Covid-19, you are advised to stay home for at least seven days
- Anyone over 70 is advised against going on cruises and schools have been warned against international school trips
- Public gatherings are not banned but the PM is "considering" doing so for events such as sporting fixtures.
- Schools have also not been suspended, as "scientific advice" has indicated that would do "more harm than good".

Read more: coronavirus updates LIVE

Can you catch coronavirus twice?

Dr Lindsay Broadbent told LBC's Eddie Mair that it seems people will develop short term immunity and once a person recovers from the virus, it is unlikely they will contract it again in a short period of time.

"However we don't know how long that immunity will last," Dr Broadbent said, and explained that our immunity for certain ailments such as the common cold or influenza do not last for our entire life.

"If that's the case with coronavirus we could be looking at a cyclical infection - but we really don't know at this stage."

How does Covid-19 spread?

The WHO says people can catch Covid-19 from others who are already infected with the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with Covid-19 coughs or exhales.

These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch Covid-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.

People can also catch Covid-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with Covid-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. This is why it is important to stay more than 1 meter (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

Should we wear rubber gloves to prevent spread?

A reason study has suggested coronavirus can live on hard surfaces including plastic and metal for up to three days but this will vary depending on what the outside temperature is, Dr Sarah Jarvis told LBC.

Dr Sarah Jarvis told LBC she does not recommend people wear rubber gloves "for absolutely everything" but if you do wear gloves you must take them off properly in order to avoid contaminating your hands.

"It's a question of common sense, so for instance if you were at a lift you might want to use your knuckle rather than the front of the finger because the front of your finger is the part of your hand which is mostly likely to touch your face."

The measures the government announced yesterday appeared far less stringent than the school, workplace and border closures adopted in other countries, came under criticism over the strength of the country's response.

In an interview with LBC, the UK's chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said schools would need to be shut "for many months" instead of just a few weeks to make a difference.

He said it was also unclear if any children have transmitted the illness and that most experience only mild Covid-19 symptoms.

On Friday, several huge sporting associations took it upon themselves to postpone a number of events due to the panedemic.

The English Football League and Premier League announced it would be postponing all fixtures until the beginning of April.

UEFA said it would be postponing all matches in the next week, including Champions League and Europa League games.As a result, the quarter-final draws for the two competitions will also be postponed.