Coronavirus (COVID-19) - the symptoms and steps to take to stop it spreading
Coronavirus is a virus that affects your lungs and airways As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.
For most people, it causes mild symptoms while for others it can be more serious and require hospital treatment.
It’s a new illness, so there’s a lot we don’t know for sure yet, but the Government is making lots of preparations to help contain coronavirus as much as possible.
The incubation period of COVID-19, is between 2 to 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they have not become a case.
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:
• shortness of breath
• Difficulty in breathing
• Fever a high temperature
• Muscle Ache
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.
What should I do if I think I have symptoms?
If you think you have might have coronavirus don’t go to your doctor’s surgery or hospital. Stay calm, avoid contact with other people, and use the NHS specialist online coronavirus service for advice. Or call NHS 111.
How can I reduce my risk of getting coronavirus or transmitting the virus to other people?
One of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of infection for yourself and the people around you is to wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly, with soap and hot water. You should wash your hands more often than you would normally.
You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or for two rounds of the song ‘Happy Birthday’, especially when you get home after going out, before eating or handling food, and after sneezing or blowing your nose.
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. Then wash your hands.
Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Avoid direct or close contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.
Should I stop going out or seeing people?
As of 2pm on Tuesday the 31st March 2020, the government's advice is as follows:
if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. (The ending isolation section below has more information)
if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. See the explanatory diagram
for anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period. The ending isolation section below has more information, and see the explanatory diagram
it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
if you have coronavirus symptoms:
do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999
I’m worried about someone. What should I do?
If you’re worried about someone else, encourage them to use the NHS online coronavirus service or call 111.
If someone’s been advised to self-isolate, is very worried about going out or decides they’d prefer not to, there are still plenty of things you can do to help.
• Stay in touch over the phone, by post, online or by popping over for a chat (assuming the person is allowed to have contact with others, and you take the precautions outlined above).
• See if people need any shopping or help by running some errands.
• Encourage people to stay active around the house and keep moving.
For further information, please visit the NHS online coronavirus service: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19