COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
Most people infected with coronavirus will experience a mild to moderate illness and will recover without needing any specialist treatment. Older people, and those with underlying health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The most common symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a new, continuous cough – this means 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.
- Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.
While we are all required to comply with social distancing, if you have any of the symptoms outlined above, however mild, you MUST stay at home for at least 7 days if you live on your own. If you live with others and they have any symptoms, everyone in the household MUST stay at home for 14 days.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have coronavirus. The symptoms are similar to more common illnesses, such as cold and flu.
If you have the symptoms you MUST stay at home and self-isolate. Do NOT go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Instead, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do. Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
- Go to work or public areas
- Use public transport or taxis
- Have any visitors to your home
- Go out to by food or medicine – order them online, by phone or ask someone else to drop them off to your home
Staying alert and safe (social distancing)
It is still very important that people stay home unless it is necessary to go out for specific reasons (set out in law here) These include:
- for work, where you cannot work from home
- going to shops that are permitted to be open – to get things like food and medicine, and to collect goods ordered online or on the phone
- to exercise or spend time outdoors for recreation
- any medical need, to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
Where parents or someone with parental responsibility do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes to continue existing arrangements for access and contact.
Find out more about staying safe outside your home and why staying at home can help stop coronavirus spreading.