Coronavirus update - new information added regularly
Mon, 01 Jun 2020

1 June 2020

What is coronavirus and should I be concerned?

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever, a cough and loss of smell/taste that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Generally, coronavirus 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.

What are the signs and symptoms of coronavirus?

The symptoms of coronavirus (now known as COVID-19) include fever and respiratory symptoms including coughing, sneezing, and shortness of breath. For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

You should stay at home if you have either:

  • A high temperature
  • A new continuous cough
  • Loss of smell and/or taste (Anosmia)

If you live alone, you should self-isolate for seven days from the onset of symptoms. After seven days if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to continue to self-isolate. If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal. You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after seven days, as a cough can last for several weeks after the infection is gone.

If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), then you must stay at home for seven 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.

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.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.        

You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you are staying at home.

If you develop new coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms at any point after ending your first period of isolation (self- or household) then you need to follow the same guidance on self-isolation again.

Getting tested for coronavirus:

As part of the UK Government 5-pillar strategy for coronavirus testing, you can get a throat and nose swab test for whether you currently have coronavirus.

If you have any symptoms of coronavirus, you can ask for a test through the NHS website.

If you are an essential worker, you can apply for priority testing through gov.uk by following the guidance for essential workers. You can also get tested through this route if you have symptoms of coronavirus and live with an essential worker.

Testing for essential workers are prioritised over the tests for the wider public through the NHS.

NHS Test and Trace:

The NHS Test and Trace Service ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus and helps trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.

How NHS Test and Trace Service works: Part 1 - For someone with symptoms of coronavirus:

  1. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you must self-isolate from the onset of symptoms. You must self-isolate for at least seven days. Anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms.
  2. Order a test immediately at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access
  3. You will receive your results:
    • Negative result - you and other household members no longer need to self-isolate
    • Positive result - you must complete the remainder of your 7-days self-isolation. Anyone in your household must also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms.
  4. Share contacts: if you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you with instructions of how to share details of people with whom you have had close, recent contact and places you have visited. It is important you respond as soon as possible so that appropriate advice can be provided to those who need it. You will be told to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of the NHS Test and Trace Contact Tracers.

How NHS Test and Trace Service works: Part 2 - if you are identified as a close contact:

  1. You will be alerted by the NHS Test and Trace Service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will usually come by text, email or phone call. You should then log on to the NHS Test and Trace website, which is normally the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other - but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you must do. Under-18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue.
  2. You will be told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from your last contact with the person who has tested positive. It is really important to do this even if you don't feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days. Your household does not need to self-isolate with you, if you do not have symptoms, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact with you at home.
  3. Test if needed: if you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household must self-isolate immediately for 14 days and you must book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access. If your test is positive, you must continue to stay at home for at least seven days and the NHS Test and Trace Service will get in touch to ask about your contacts since they must self-isolate. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14 day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet - this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.

For more information on the NHS Test and Trace Service, see here.

Social distancing measures:

We can all help control the virus if we stay alert. This means you must:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Keep your distance if you go out (two metres apart)
  • Wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

You can spread the virus even if you don't have symptoms.

As of Monday, 1 June 2020:

  • You can spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines. You must stay at least two metres apart from the people you do not live with.
  • You should go to work if you cannot work from home and your business has not been required to close by law.

You must not:

  • Gather in group of more than six people with people you do not live with;
  • Visit friends or family inside their home or any other indoor place;
  • Stay away from your own home overnight, except for in a limited set of circumstances, such as for work purposes.

The government has published Coronavirus outbreak FAQs to advise what you can and can't do.

Shielding vulnerable people:

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others. People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing. If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household. Ideally, this should be the same person each time. If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping two metres apart. This guidance will be kept under regular review.

Who are considered to be extremely vulnerable?

People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients.
  2. People with specific cancers:
  • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
  • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
  • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  1. People with severe respiratory conditions including cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD
  2. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
  3. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  4. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

Shielding is for your personal protection. It is your choice to decide whether to follow the measures we advise. Individuals who have been given a prognosis of less than 6 months to live, and some others in special circumstances, could decide not to undertake shielding. This will be a deeply personal decision. We advise calling your GP or specialist to discuss this.

Useful Resources:

Stay at home if you think you have coronavirus (self-isolating)

Stay alert and safe: social distancing guidance for everyone

Stay alert: what you can and cannot do

How to stay safe outside your home

NHS Test and Trace Service

How to protect clinically vulnerable people (shielding)

Full guidance on coronavirus testing and eligibility

Apply for a coronavirus test if you're eligible


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