What is the Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as SARS.
The current pandemic has been caused by COVID-19—a new strain, which has affected most countries around the world.
How is Coronavirus spread?
As COVID-19 is a novel virus, the way it spreads isn’t fully understood. But from what we know, it’s most likely spread through:
- Direct contact with a person while they’re infectious
- Contact with airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
- Touching objects or surfaces that were contaminated by airborne droplets, then touching your own mouth or face
What precautions can I take to stop the spread?
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure that you wash your palms, fronts of hands and thumbs
- Wash your hands when you get into work, after travelling on public transport, when you arrive home and before eating in addition to standard hygiene practices
- From 15th June, it is mandatory to wear a mask or face covering while on public transport
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are unavailable
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put your tissue in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- Stay away from unwell people
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren’t clean
What should I do if I experience symptoms?
This advice is for people with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), including those with a diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, who must remain at home until they are well.
The main messages are:
- If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), self-isolate in accordance with government advice. This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious
- Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure you can successfully stay at home
- Ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
- Stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible
- Sleep alone, if possible
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water
- Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible
- You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
How do I keep children occupied during this lockdown?
For parents, guardians and carers, to suddenly have children around them at all times is a major difference, and not necessarily an easy one to manage.
We've put together a brief, helpful guide on keeping kids occupied, entertained and educated here.
Should I self-isolate?
You should self-isolate by staying at home in accordance with government advice if you have either:
- A new, continuous cough
- A high temperature
Don’t go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You don’t need to contact 111 to tell them about your self-isolation.
What are the restrictions on movement?
You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare - for those eligible
Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.
Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.
If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work
When should I call 111?
You should only call 111 if you can’t use the online Coronavirus service. You should use the online service if:
- You feel you can’t cope with your symptoms at home
- Your condition gets worse
- Your symptoms don’t get better after 7 days
Should I be worried about COVID-19?
For the majority, COVID-19 infection is mild. But for the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions, it can cause serious illness. It’s natural to be a little worried.
We can channel that worry positively, though. By keeping a good hand-washing and respiratory hygiene regime—and encouraging that in others—we can minimise the risks to others and slow down the spread of the virus.
Stay informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.
Should I wear a facemask?
The advice published on 11th May has made some changes to the official guidance on facemasks, as follows:
"...the Government is now advising that people should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops. Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances. Face-coverings are not intended to help the wearer, but to protect against inadvertent transmission of the disease to others if you have it asymptomatically.
"A face covering is not the same as a facemask such as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it. Face-coverings should not be used by children under the age of two, or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly, for example primary age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions. It is important to use facecoverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off."
Facemasks are currently mandatory on public transport. In Scotland, you must wear a facemask if you're going into shops, and from 24th July, it'll be mandatory to wear them in shops in England.
What should I do when my self-isolation ends?
You should remain at home, following government guidelines
The government has implemented measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Everyone should stay at home as much as feasibly possible.
This situation is evolving—please check the government’s website for up to the minute details.
If you have not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, you should contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.
A cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean you must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.
What can I do to help myself get better?
Drink water to keep yourself hydrated—you should drink enough during the day so your urine is a pale clear colour.
You can use over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol, to help with some of your symptoms. Use these according to the instructions on the packet or label and do not exceed the recommended dose.
If I, or someone I know is pregnant, do I need to take additional precautions?
No. But it is important to follow the precautions outlined.
Please contact NHS 111 or your healthcare provider if you have concerns.
What can families do to cope with isolation?
While it's difficult for single people and childless couples to isolate, there're extra strains and stresses of families. We've put together a brief article here which some hints and tips on getting through the lockdown together.
How can I find financial help?
With furloughing and redundancies common, people need to know how to keep their finances in order during the COVID-19 crisis. We've put together a short advice article explaining some basics here.
Are Child Arrangement Orders affected by the pandemic?
We have a brief FAQ about Child Arrangement Orders, and your rights & responsibilities during the coronavirus outbreak, here.