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

View UK cases 2

View Covid-19 map: Coronavirus cases, deaths, vaccinations by county  15

View Holiday rules for travel to red, amber and green list countries for England  16

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
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Severe symptoms:

  • Breathing difficulty3
  • Hypoxemia (low oxygen in your blood)
  • Hypoxia (low oxygen in your tissues)
  • Pneumonia

For more information about the main symptoms of COVID-19 , please click here

According to the ZOE Covid study, the most common symptoms of the Delta variant of COVID-19  are not in fact cough, fever, and loss of taste or smell , but actually headache, sore throat, sneezing and runny nose. For more information click here

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
  • Asplenia
  • Severe kidney disease
  • Organ transplant patients
  • Adult with  Down’s syndrome
  • Cancer patients
  • Pregnancy
  • Those with a weakened immune system
  • Over-weight (BMI of over 40)5

For more information on clinically extremely vulnerable groups click here

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:

  • Get vaccinated
  • 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
  • Meet people outside if possible
  • Open  doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside
  • Limit the number of people you meet and avoid crowded place

  • Wear a face covering when it’s hard to stay away from other people – particularly indoors or in crowded places

For more information on how to stay safe and help prevent the spread of coronavirus click  here

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.

The NHS has advised that those who show symptoms should stay at home for at least 10 days. If fever continues after 10 days then to keep self-isolating until temperature returns to normal. If just a cough persists after 10 days, self-isolation is not necessary.

If living with someone suspected of being infected, it is advised to self-isolate for 10 days to avoid spreading the infection outside the home. This applies to everyone, regardless of whether they have travelled abroad.8

For more information on self-isolation click here

Where to get tested for coronavirus?

There are different tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). The test you need depends on why you’re getting tested.

The 2 main tests are:

  • PCR tests – mainly for people with symptoms, they’re sent to a lab to be checked
  • rapid lateral flow tests – only for people who do not have symptoms, they give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test

Both tests are free.

If you have any of these 3 coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, even if mild, use this service to get a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test as soon as possible:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • you’ve lost your sense of smell or taste or it’s changed

You can order a PCR test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a walk-in or drive-through test site.

If you have symptoms, you and everyone you live with must immediately self-isolate. Do not leave home until you get your test results, except to post a test kit or for a PCR test appointment.

You should not use this service if you’ve received a positive PCR test result in the last 90 days, unless you develop any new symptoms.

Getting a PCR test if you have no symptoms

You can also use this service if:

  • you’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive
  • you’ve been asked to get a test by a local council or someone from NHS Test and Trace
  • a GP or other health professional has asked you to get a test
  • you’re taking part in a government pilot project
  • you’ve been asked to get a test to confirm a positive result
  • you’ve received an unclear result and were told to get a second test
  • you need to get a test for someone you live with who has symptoms
  • you’re in the National Tactical Response Group

Regular rapid lateral flow coronavirus (COVID-19) tests

You can get regular rapid lateral flow tests if you do not have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Why you should get tested regularly ?

About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others.

You should do a rapid test twice a week (every 3 to 4 days) to check if you have the virus. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading.

Even if you’re vaccinated, there’s still a chance you can pass COVID-19 on, so you should keep getting tested regularly.

About rapid tests

The test for people without symptoms of COVID-19 is called a rapid lateral flow test.

This usually involves rubbing a long cotton bud (swab) over your tonsils (or where they would have been) and inside your nose.

Tests give a quick result using a device similar to a pregnancy test.

You can do a rapid test at home or at a rapid lateral flow test site.

Research shows rapid tests are 99.9% accurate. This means the chance of getting a false-positive result (where the result shows as positive but is actually negative) is extremely low.

If you test positive, you and anyone you live with will need to self-isolate.

Who can get regular rapid tests?

Anyone who does not have symptoms can get regular rapid lateral flow tests to check for COVID-19.

Information: A lateral flow test is good for screening when you have no symptoms but not useful if you have symptoms. If you have symptoms, but have a negative lateral flow test result – it does not mean you have not got COVID-19.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you need a different test called a PCR test. Get a PCR test if you have symptoms of COVID-19 on GOV.UK

How to get regular rapid tests.

Order tests online.

If you order online, you can get rapid flow test kits sent to your home.

If you do tests at home, you’ll need to report your results online or on the phone.

Pick up tests to do at home 

You can pick test packs from a test collection point near you.

From 3 July 2021, some test sites will stop providing home test kits for collection. But you’ll still be able to pick up tests from pharmacies and collection points run by community organisations, like libraries.

If you do tests at home, you’ll need to report your results online or on the phone.

Go to a test site

You can get tested at a rapid lateral flow test site.

If you go to a test site:

  • you may need an appointment, so check before you go
  • a trained helper might be able to help you do the test
  • you’ll get a text or email with the result when it’s ready

School, college and nursery testing

If you attend or work at a school, college or nursery you can get rapid tests through your school, college or nursery.

You’re advised to do a test twice a week.

Primary school-age children and younger do not need to test.

Employee and university testing.

Some employers and universities offer rapid tests. Ask your employer or university if they provide rapid tests.

Apply for a coronavirus test here.10

Getting tested for travel.

You cannot use this service to book tests for travel.

Find out what you need to do to:

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

For more information on how to look after yourself at home if you have COVID-19 click here

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?

The COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for use in the UK are:

  • Moderna vaccine
  • Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
  • Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
  • Janssen vaccine (available later this year)

Which vaccine will you get?

You cannot usually choose which vaccine you have. When you book, you’ll only be offered appointments for vaccines that are suitable for you.

Most people can have any of the COVID-19 vaccines, but some people are only offered certain vaccines.

For example, if you’re pregnant or under 40 you’ll usually only be offered appointments for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

You should have the same vaccine for both doses, unless you had serious side effects (such as a serious allergic reaction) after your 1st dose.

Book or manage your coronavirus (COVID-19)  vaccination here.

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 advice for 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

Where can I get information in different languages?

You can find out more about Covid-19, the vaccine and testing in North East London here. This has Q&As, links to the latest advice, a map of vaccine sites in North East London and opening times as well as videos in a range of languages. The whole site can be read in one of over 100 languages.


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
  15. BBC: Covid-19 map: Coronavirus cases, deaths, vaccinations by county
  16. GOV.UK:  Red amber and green list rules for entering England
  17. NEL Health and Care Partnership : Covid 19 information in various languages.