What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.
Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).
Check if you or your child has coronavirus symptoms
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), get a test as soon as possible. Stay at home until you get the result.
The main 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)
- a 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 1 of these symptoms.
What to do if you have symptoms
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:
- Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
- You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
When to self-isolate and what to do
What is self-isolation?
Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19).
This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.
Self-isolation is different to:
- social distancing – general advice for everyone to avoid close contact with other people
- shielding – advice for people at high risk from coronavirus
It's a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you do not self-isolate.
When to self-isolate
Self-isolate immediately if:
If you think you've been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, but you do not have symptoms and have not been told to self-isolate, continue to follow social distancing advice.
How to self-isolate
You must not leave your home if you're self-isolating.
do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can
do not go on public transport or use taxis
do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one
When to get a test
Get a test as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.
The symptoms are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
The test needs to be done in the first 8 days of having symptoms.
You do not need to get a test if you have no symptoms or if you have different symptoms.