Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China. It is a new respiratory illness which affects lungs and airways that has not previously been seen in humans. Generally, COVID-19 can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
The latest information on symptoms of COVID-19 and NHS website advice can be found here.
Everyone MUST stay at home to stop COVID-19 spreading
This includes people of ALL ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.
You should only leave your home for one of four reasons:
- to shop for basic essentials – for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
- to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
- for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy, to donate blood, to avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, to provide care for and/or help a vulnerable person
- to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary i.e. you cannot work from home
- These 4 reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are practising social distancing if you do go outside - staying 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone outside of your household.
- Please read the full GOV.UK guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK
- Get answers to common questions about staying at home on GOV.UK
What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms
Continue to stay at home if you have either:
- a high temperature - you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough - you have been coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
To protect others, stay indoors and avoid contact with other people (as you would with the flu):
- DO NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
- DO NOT leave your house, for example to go for a walk, to school or public places
- DO NOT have visitors in your home (ask people to leave deliveries outside)
Please use the NHS 111 online COVID-19 service for advice if:
- you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
- your condition gets worse
You DO NOT need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.
Obtaining an isolation note
From Friday 20 March onwards, those who have COVID-19 or are advised to self-isolate will be able to obtain an “isolation note” by visiting NHS 111 online and completing an online form, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a “fit note” to your employer after seven days of sickness absence. Isolation notes will also be accepted by Jobcentre Plus as evidence of your inability to attend.
If you have to stay at home but feel well enough to work, ask your employer if you can work from home. If you can work from home, you will NOT need an isolation note.
Please DO NOT go to a GP surgery.
Advice for people at high risk from COVID-19
If you're at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, there are extra things you should do to avoid catching it.
- not leaving your home – you should not go out to do shopping, visit friends or family, or attend any gatherings
- avoiding close contact with other people in your home as much as possible - stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away
Ask friends, family or neighbours to pick up shopping and medicines for you. They should leave them outside your door.
If you need help getting deliveries of essential supplies like food, you can register here to get coronavirus support - you can also register on behalf of someone else.
Who is at high risk from COVID-19?
You may be at high risk from COVID-19 if you:
- have had an organ transplant
- are having certain types of cancer treatment
- have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
- have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
- have a condition that makes you much more likely to get infections
- are taking medicine that weakens your immune system
- are pregnant and have a serious heart condition
- Information: If you're at high risk, you will be contacted by the NHS by Sunday 29 March 2020. Please DO NOT contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage – wait to be contacted.
How to avoid catching & spreading COVID-19
Everyone MUST stay at home to stop COVID-19 spreading.
Like the common cold, the COVID-19 infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with COVID-19 Via cough and sneezes or hand contact. A person can also catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands. It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.
Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England advice to:
Treatment for COVID-19
There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
You'll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you've recovered.
There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make COVID-19 worse.
But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of COVID-19, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.
If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor (e.g. for arthritis), do not stop taking it without checking first.
Looking after your health and wellbeing
To help yourself stay well while you're at home:
- stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media
- try to keep yourself busy – you could try activities like cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
- do light exercise at home, or outside once a day
- drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
For more advice, see:
- Every Mind Matters: 10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus
- Every Mind Matters: how to look after your mental wellbeing while staying at home
- Strength and flex exercises you can do at home
What to do if you need medical help for another reason
If you need medical help not related to COVID-19, DO NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
- For health information and advice, use the NHS website or check use your GP surgery website.
- For urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 online service. Only call 111 if you're unable to get help online.
- For life-threatening emergencies, call 999 for an ambulance.
- GOV.UK: coronavirus action plan
- GOV.UK: information on coronavirus and the situation in the UK
- Pregnancy advice
- Travel advice
- UK government response: coronavirus (COVID-19)
- NHS England - NHS Volunteer Responders
Last updated: Apr 03, 2020
Published: Jan 29, 2020