Coronavirus update - new information added regularly
Wed, 20 May 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 7 days from the onset of symptoms. After 7 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 7 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 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.

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.

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 (2 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.

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. We are strongly advising people with serious underlying health conditions (listed below), which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.

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 or 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

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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