CORONAVIRUS: Public information

1 April 2020

Get the most up-to-date public information about Covid-19 (coronavirus) on the NHS website.

Covid-19 – commonly known simply as ‘coronavirus’ – is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of COVID-19 are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading

Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
You should only leave the house for 1 of 4 reasons:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible

  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household

  • any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person

  • travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home

There is separate advice about:

Information for people most at risk from Covid-19

NHS England has produced an information sheet and Frequently Asked Questions for people considered to be at highest clinical risk from coronavirus (Covid-19) who have been told to 'sheild' themselves.

Sheilding means staying at home at all times and avoiding all face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks.

Background and FAQs for patients 

Stop the virus from spreading

There are things you can do to help stop germs like coronavirus spreading. The best way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 is by good hand hygiene and regular hand washing. Everyone is advised to wash hands more often, especially:

  • when you get to work or arrive home

  • after you blow your nose, cough or sneeze

  • before you eat or handle food

You should wash your hands for 20 seconds, using soap and water or hand sanitiser.

You should also:

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze

  • put used tissues in the bin

  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean 

  • try to avoid contact with people who are unwell.

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