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Understanding COVID-19 in at-risk patients

02 October 2020
9 min read
Volume 31 · Issue 10

Abstract

People with underlying health conditions have been shown to be at greater risk from COVID-19. Margaret Ann Perry explains what has been learnt so far

Coronavirus and COVID-19 hit the headlines at the end of January 2020 when the first cases in the UK were confirmed. Since then the condition has continued to dominate the headlines as the number of deaths has risen around the world. People with underlying health conditions have been found to be at greater risk of severe disease. This article gives information on what has been learnt so far.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was first identified in China following investigation into a number of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause. Early cases were thought to have originated from a market in Wuhan, which was subsequently closed. It quickly became apparent that infection with this new virus heralded serious consequences. By mid-February, China had identified 50 000 laboratory confirmed infections, of which 1600 had died, and within 1 month the disease had spread to all 34 provinces of the country (Zhang et al, 2020). Since then the disease, named COVID-19, has surfaced all over the world and statistics from the World Health Organization issued on 14 September reported an estimated 917 417 deaths globally, of which 41 623 have occurred across the UK (World Health Organization, 2020a). The UK media has continually updated the public on the disease, and it is very clear that few countries have been spared. The UK has continued to experience a rising number of both confirmed cases and deaths, many of the latter among the elderly, and people with underlying health conditions. This article aims to give practice nurses an update on this disease, with a focus on its effect on vulnerable groups.

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