COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

What is the COVID-19 coronavirus?

The COVID-19 coronavirus is a newly discovered disease. It comes from the Coronavirus family and it mainly affects the lungs and airways. Like other coronaviruses, it has transferred to humans from animals.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared it a global pandemic.

View Worldwide cases 1

View UK cases 2

How does the COVID-19 coronavirus spread?

COVID-19 is mainly spread via infected droplets though the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is very important to ensure measures are taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 (see below) as it is highly infectious. It can also be spread by touching contaminated surfaces.3

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 Coronavirus?

Common symptoms include:

  • Temperature
  • Tiredness
  • A new persistent dry cough

Other symptoms may include:

  • Sore throat
  • A loss of taste or smell
  • Nasal congestion or a runny nose
  • Aches and pains
  • Diarrhoea

Severe symptoms:

  • Breathing difficulty3

Patients experiencing fever, cough or breathing difficulty should use the ‘111 online’ Coronavirus service for further advice. To protect others do not go to a GP, pharmacy or hospital.4

Who is considered to be at higher risk?

Most people who are infected with COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate symptoms and likely to recover without specialised treatment. Certain groups of people are considered to be at a higher risk and therefore more likely to develop serious illness often leading to hospitalisation. These groups include:

  • Elderly (over 70)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer patients
  • Pregnancy
  • Those with a weakened immune system
  • Over-weight (BMI of over 40)5

Are children at risk of getting infected with coronavirus?

  • Children with no underlying health conditions are not at a higher risk of getting infected than adults.
  • Some children with certain conditions such as cancer will fall under the high risk category.
  • Support is available for the children of keyworkers in terms of accessing educational facilities such as schools and nurseries.6

What advice is there to stop the spread of Covid-19 Coronavirus?

To minimise the risk of spread:

  • Wash hands with soap and water frequently – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Wash hands as soon as possible when arriving home
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or elbow (not hands) when coughing or sneezing
  • Bin used tissues immediately and wash hands afterwards
  • Do not touch eyes, nose or mouth if hands are not clean

Further advice is for everyone to stay at home to stop COVID-19 from spreading. This means only leaving the home for limited purposes:

  • Shopping for basic necessities – food and medicine
  • One form of exercise a day – alone or with members of the household
  • Medical need – such as donating blood
  • Travelling for work purposes – only if working from home cannot be done7

Who to contact if COVID-19 infection is suspected?


In the UK, contact ‘111 Online’ for information. If symptoms last longer than 7 days or worsen, call NHS 111. People will no longer be tested for the virus unless they are in hospital.

The NHS has advised that those who show symptoms should stay at home for at least 7 days. If fever continues after 7 days then to keep self-isolating until temperature returns to normal. If just a cough persists after 7 days, self-isolation is not necessary.

If living with someone suspected of being infected, it is advised to self-isolate for 14 days to avoid spreading the infection outside the home. This applies to everyone, regardless of whether they have travelled abroad.8

Where to get tested for coronavirus?

A range of people are now eligible to be tested in the community. These include

  • All essential workers (NHS/social care) with or without symptoms
  • Anyone over the age of 65 with symptoms
  • Anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (such as plumbers, builders)
  • Anyone who lives with the above and have symptoms
  • Care home residents9

The test needs to be done within the first 5 days of experiencing symptoms. Frontline essential works will be given priority.

The test involves taking a swab of the inside of the nose and the back of the throat using a long cotton bud. This is an antigen test and tests whether someone currently has coronavirus. This can be done either:

  1. At home
  2. Drive-through testing site

Apply for a coronavirus test here.10

What is the treatment for COVID-19 coronavirus?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19 but treatment can help to ease the symptoms.

  • Paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve aches, pains and temperature
  • Rest
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration

If experiencing dry cough:

  • Avoid lying on the back
  • Lie on the side when sleeping or sitting upright may ease the cough
  • Teaspoon of honey to sooth the throat (not suitable for babies under 1 year)

If feeling breathless:

  • Ensure room is kept cool
  • Practice breathing in slowly through the nose and out through the mouth
  • Keeping an upright posture
  • Avoid hunching
  • Do not use a fan as it may spread the virus
  • Try to avoid panicking as this may make cause further difficulty in breathing.

Contact pharmacist (via phone or online) for further advice.  Do not go to a pharmacy in person.11

Can the coronavirus be treated with antibiotics?

Antibiotics do not work to treat the COVID-19 coronavirus. They only work against bacterial infections and not against viral infections.

Is there a Vaccine for COVID-19 Coronavirus?

There is currently no vaccine for COVID-19. Pharmaceutical companies are working on a vaccine, however no timelines have been given.

It should be noted that as this is a viral disease antibiotics are not effective. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work. Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system.

If you would like to be informed of when a vaccine becomes available then please register for the newsletter on this page.

What precautions need to be taken while travelling during the COVID-19 outbreak?

British authorities have advised against all non-essential travel worldwide. This applies for an indefinite period due unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. All countries may restrict travel without notice. Further information can be found here.12

Checklist before travelling (if unavoidable):

  • Contact your airline, travel company, or other transport and accommodation providers to make sure you can still travel
  • Check travel insurance details to check that you are covered (contact insurer if uncertain) More information can be found here.13
  • Ensure money is accessible to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. Take more than one means of payment with you
  • Be aware and follow the advice of local authorities abroad. Be ready to comply with local isolation or quarantine requirements, and to rely on the local health system
  • Bring extra medication in case of unplanned delays
  • Be prepared for logistical and financial disruption to your travel
  • Arrange extra support for family members, dependants or pets who may need care if you are abroad longer than planned
  • Check travel advicefor your destination regularly and sign-up to email alerts

Entry restrictions:

Many countries have introduced screening measures (temperature checks, health/travel questions, quarantine) and entry restrictions at border crossings and transport hubs.

Contact local immigration authorities or specific embassy, high commission or consulate for further information.14


This information is taken from trusted third party websites, NHS, WHO, Sky News and WorldoMeters and all use of information has been licenced under the Open Government Licence

Although the materials are being used/replicated under the provisions of the Open Government Licence this in no way represents endorsement of by NHS, WHO, Sky News and WorldoMeters.

  1. Worldometer: Coronavirus
  2. Sky News: Coronavirus UK tracker
  3. World Health Organisation (WHO): Coronavirus
  4. NHS: 111 online
  5. NHS: Coronavirus – Advice for people at higher risk
  6. GOV.UK: Supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
  7. NHS: Coronavirus – Advice for everyone
  8. NHS: Self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms
  9. GOV.UK: Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested
  10. GOV.UK: Apply for a coronavirus test
  11. NHS: How to treat coronavirus at home
  12. GOV.UK: Travel Advice: Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  13. ABI: Coronavirus information hub
  14. GOV.UK: Coronavirus (COVID-19) essential international travel guidance