Coronavirus is a virus that causes an illness called COVID-19. It affects your lungs and airways. For most people, it causes mild symptoms while for others it can be more serious and require hospital treatment. The Government is making lots of preparations to help contain coronavirus and daily briefings are now being held.
The symptoms are:
These symptoms are similar to lots of other illnesses, like common colds and flu. If someone has these symptoms it doesn’t necessarily mean they have coronavirus. Though we do need to ensure that we limit the spread, anyone who has symptoms that could be coronavirus, however mild, needs to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for between 7 and 14 days. Read more.
There are some people who must listen to the Government’s advice to self isolate and stay at home and avoid contact with other people, allowing only essential visitors in their home such as NHS staff or care workers to keep themselves safe. The Government is advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.
This group includes those who are:
For specific advice on medical conditions we have further information here.
As of Monday 23 March 2020, the NHS will be getting in touch with anyone who they think might get seriously ill if they were to catch coronavirus. They’ll give specific advice for what to do.
If you think you’re more at risk, make sure you’re following advice about social distancing and keep washing your hands regularly. You don’t need to call your doctor or NHS 111 – just wait to be contacted.
The Government is advising us all to do what we can to help stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes staying at home and avoiding social contact with other people – what’s known as ‘social distancing’.
This means you should:
You should also make sure you wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly, with soap and hot water.
You should wash your hands:
Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. You should also make sure you catch coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve – not your hands – and put used tissues in the bin.
Anyone with symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days.
If you live with older people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.
After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine.
But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days form the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they're at home for longer than 14 days.
Shielding is a practice used to protect extremely vulnerable people from coming into contact with coronavirus. It is designed to ensure people who are clinically extremely vulnerable minimise all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.
The government will be sending letters to 1.5 million people in England urging them to self-isolate for an extended period. Health officials have urged those considered most at risk from the disease because of their health conditions to begin "shielding" themselves by staying at home. Letters will go out this week (22/03/2020) "strongly advising" people not to go out for at least 12 weeks from Monday.
The government advice states:
Stay at home and for at least 7 days if you have a new, continuous cough or high temperature, even if you're feeling OK.
Stay at home for at least 14 days if you live with other people and you or they develop a new, continuous cough or high temperature. Everyone in the household needs to stay at home for at least 14 days.
You don’t need to tell the NHS you’re staying at home, and you won’t be tested for coronavirus. You only need to get in touch with the NHS if:
You should do this by calling 111 or using the NHS online coronavirus service. Do not go to your doctor’s surgery or to hospital.
You should contact your regular social visitors such as friends and family to let them know that you are reducing social contacts and that they should not visit you during this time unless they are providing essential care for you. Essential care includes things like help with washing, dressing, or preparing meals.
If you receive regular health or social care from an organisation, either through your local authority or paid for by yourself, inform your care providers that you are reducing social contacts and agree on a plan for continuing your care.
If you receive essential care from friends or family members, speak to your carers about extra precautions they can take to keep you safe. You may find this guidance on Home care provision useful.
It is also a good idea to speak to your carers about what happens if one of them becomes unwell. If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact, or if you do not have family or friends who can help you, you can contact your local council who should be able to help you.
If you have caring responsibilities, Carers UK suggests looking at putting a contingency plan in place, and if you can, make cover arrangements with trusted neighbours, friends or family members. Have a look at their information on coronavirus.
If you receive help with formal care services to support your caring responsibilities, you may wish to speak to your care provider or local authority should have you have queries or concerns about continuity of care.
During normal day-to-day activities face masks don't protect people from viruses like coronavirus. The best way to reduce any risk of infections is with good hygiene, like washing your hands, and avoiding direct or close contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.
Health and social care professionals may wear masks if they're looking after people who have tested positive for coronavirus, or may have been infected. If someone has been told they have coronavirus, they may be advised to wear a mask.
There are still plenty of things we can all do to help others during this time.
The simplest thing everyone can do right now is look out for their neighbours and offer help with shopping and other errands. Knowing who needs help and making sure they can access help but stay safe.
Remember it's not just about neighbours who are self-isolating or vulnerable. You can also help by not panic buying but adding a little to your shopping list to donate to the foodbanks in your area. Most supermarkets will collect these in store, minimising travel and risk.
Other people in the community who might also appreciate help are:
It's completely understandable to be worried about the impact coronavirus may have on you or those you care about. Try to stay calm and follow the official advice from the Government.
We also have some tips to help you think about your wellbeing over comings weeks and months here.