What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses common across the world in animals and humans. Certain types cause illnesses in people.
The current novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak began in December 2019 and presents a significant challenge for the entire world.
The symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a cough
- a high temperature
- shortness of breath
- anosmia (the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked.)
Symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are more common, such as cold and flu, and do not necessarily mean that you have the illness.
Because COVID-19 is a new illness, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person. It is very unlikely that if can be spread through packaging or food.
We can all help control the virus if we all 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 where possible)
- wash your hands regularly
Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.
As it is a new virus, the lack of immunity in the population means that COVID-19 has the potential to spread extensively.
There is not a vaccine or proven antiviral medication to treat COVID-19, therefore it is important to take precautions to protect yourself and others from contracting the illness.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Advice on best practice is available here.
- Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or use your sleeve when you cough or sneeze. Dispose of the used tissue immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth if your hands are not clean
- Your health and mental wellbeing is of utmost importance, please continue to take your medications, and access services that you require
- Do not panic-buy products
- Reduce the spread of misinformation – rely on trusted sources for news and up-to-date guidance (www.nhs.uk) (www.gov.uk)
If you think you might have coronavirus, or have been in close contact with someone who has it:
- Stay at home and avoid close contact with others
- Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy, or hospital, you may be putting others at risk
- Visit NHS 111 online for guidance. You will be asked to complete a short form, and then advised on what you need to do next (self-isolation, or if you require medical help)
- Let your Recovery Coordinator know that you are ill, contact details can be found on this website.
Changes for the symptomatic individual and their household:
- individuals will need to self-isolate immediately if they develop a new continuous cough or fever or, as of today, a loss or changed sense of normal smell or taste (anosmia)
- all members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result
There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. Antibiotics will not help as they do not work against viruses.
NHS 111 will be able to advise you on the best treatment for you to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness. You will need to stay in isolation away from others until you have recovered.
The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, for as many people as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.
The government has published guidance on what the new rules will mean.
More information about COVID-19 can be found