The number of cases of coronavirus are continuing to rise around the world - and those suffering with symptoms may be taking medication to help relieve symptoms.

However, France's health minister, Olivier Veran, recently stated that anti-inflammatories, including ibuprofen and cortisone “could aggravate the infection.”

“If you have a fever, take paracetamol,” he advised.

Is this advice correct?

Although this is the information currently being reported in France, Public Health England (PHE) are not advocating the same advice.

PHE said: “There is not currently enough information on ibuprofen use and Covid-19 to advise people to stop using ibuprofen.

“Currently there is no published scientific evidence that ibuprofen increases the risk of catching Covid-19 or makes the illness worse. There is also no conclusive evidence that taking ibuprofen is harmful for other respiratory infections.”

PHE also explains that most people with coronavirus will have a mild illness, and that some people may need to take medicines, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, in order to help with raised temperature, headache and other pains.

The executive agency said people should “always follow the instructions on the label if [they] do take these medicines and do not exceed the stated dose.”

“Patients who have been prescribed NSAIDs for long-term health problems should continue to take them as directed by their healthcare professional,” PHE added.

NHS information regarding NSAIDs

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including ibuprofen, are medicines that are widely used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and bring down a high temperature.

The NHS explained that: “They're often used to relieve symptoms of headaches, painful periods, sprains and strains, colds and flu, arthritis, and other causes of long-term pain.

“Although NSAIDs are commonly used, they're not suitable for everyone and can sometimes cause troublesome side effects.”

Who can and can’t take anti-inflammatory medication?

Most people can take NSAIDs, but some people need to be careful about taking them, explains the NHS.

It's a good idea to ask a pharmacist or doctor for advice before taking an NSAID if you:

  • are over 65 years of age
  • are pregnant or trying for a baby
  • are breastfeeding
  • have asthma
  • have had an allergic reaction to NSAIDs in the past
  • have had stomach ulcers in the past
  • have any problems with your heart, liver, kidneys, blood pressure, circulation or bowels
  • are taking other medicines
  • are looking for medicine for a child under 16 (do not give any medicine that contains aspirin to children under 16)

The NHS said, “NSAIDs might not necessarily need to be avoided in these cases, but they should only be used on the advice of a healthcare professional as there may be a higher risk of side effects.

“If NSAIDs are not suitable, your pharmacist or doctor may suggest alternatives to NSAIDs, such as paracetamol.”

The main types of NSAIDs include:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen
  • Diclofenac
  • Celecoxib
  • mefenamic acid
  • Etoricoxib
  • Indomethacin
  • high-dose aspirin (low-dose aspirin is not normally considered to be an NSAID)

Alternative medication

The NHS added: “As NSAIDs can cause troublesome side effects, alternatives are often recommended first.

The main alternative for pain relief is paracetamol, which is available over the counter and is safe for most people to take.”

Coronavirus: the facts by the World Health Organisation and the NHS

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government advice

As of March 12, the Government has moved into the "delay" phase of its plan to tackle coronavirus. Advice is that anyone with a continuous cough or high temperature should self-isolate for seven days. People over 70 have been advised not to go on cruises and schools advised to cancel trips abroad, though schools remain open.

Should I avoid public places?

Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.