NHS advice reviewed on 1 April 2020
- Advice for everyone
- Advice for people at higher risk
- Symptoms and what to do
- Self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms
- More information
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading
Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.
You can only leave your home:
- to shop for basic essentials – only when you really need to
- to do one form of exercise a day – such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
- for any medical need – for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
- to travel to and from work – but only where this is absolutely necessary
These reasons are exceptions – even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.
What to do if you have coronavirus symptoms
Continue to stay at home if you have either:
- 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)
To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.
Use the 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do.
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
What to do if you need medical help for another reason
If you need medical help not related to coronavirus, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
- For health information and advice, use the NHS website or check your GP surgery website.
- For urgent medical help, use the NHS 111 online service. Only call 111 if you’re unable to get help online.
- For life-threatening emergencies, call 999 for an ambulance.
Read more advice about getting medical help at home.
Advice for people at high risk
If you’re at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, there are extra things you should do to avoid catching it.
- not leaving your home – you should not go out to do shopping, visit friends or family, or attend any gatherings
- avoiding close contact with other people in your home as much as possible
Who is at high risk?
You may be at high risk from coronavirus if you:
- have had an organ transplant
- are having certain types of cancer treatment
- have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
- have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
- have a condition that makes you much more likely to get infections
- are taking medicine that weakens your immune system
- are pregnant and have a serious heart condition
If you’re at high risk, you will be contacted by the NHS by Sunday 29 March 2020. Do not contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage – wait to be contacted.
Other things you can do to stop the infection spreading
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people, if you need to go outside
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
How coronavirus is spread
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.
Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.
It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.
If you’re pregnant and worried about coronavirus, you can get advice about coronavirus and pregnancy from the Royal College of Obstretricians and Gynaecologists.
Treatment for coronavirus
- There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
- Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
- Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
- You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.
Get an isolation note to give to your employer
If you live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to stay off work.
You do not need to get a note from a GP.Get an isolation noteInformation:
If you have symptoms of coronavirus and need to stay at home, use the 111 coronavirus service to get an isolation note.