Guides and Information

Your guide to the coronavirus – should I be worried?

If you think that you have contracted the virus, DO NOT go to your local pharmacy, GP surgery or Emergency Department or Minor Injuries Unit. Instead, you should visit the dedicated NHS 111 Coronavirus service at

This page will be updated as events unfold and advice is provided by WHO/NHS/UK Government

23/03: Key points from today’s briefing:

There is a clear message to stay at home and you are only to go out for:

  • Shopping for essentials.
  • One form of exercise a day.
  • Medical need/caring for a vulnerable person.
  • Travelling to/from work – where this is absolutely necessary and you cannot work from home.

Further points include:

  • Do not meet up with friends or family members you do not live with.
  • Closure of all shops selling non-essential goods.
  • Closure of libraries, outdoor gyms, places of worship.
  • No gatherings of more than 2 people in public, apart from those you live with.
  • The police will have power to enforce rules – this includes fines and dispersing gatherings.
  • Measures will be reviewed in three weeks.

22/03: UK Government announces guidance and advice to avoid non-essential travel in the UK. The UK Government has also announced people must follow virus advice or ‘tougher measures’ are likely.

Who this guidance is for:

  • This guidance is for people planning to visit second homes or holiday premises during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
  • Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar, whether for isolation purposes or holidays. People should remain in their primary residence. Not taking these steps puts additional pressure on communities and services that are already at risk.

The main message:

  • Following on from the government’s guidance on social distancing in relation to COVID-19, people should avoid traveling unless it is essential.

21/03: UK Government announces further measures on social distancing:

  • Measures to close entertainment, hospitality and indoor leisure premises across the country to take place from the end of trading hours today (Friday 20 March) to limit spread of coronavirus
  • New measures will further limit people’s sustained social contact as we tackle the spread of coronavirus, guided by scientific evidence
  • Public urged to stay at home and limit all but essential travel – people who can work from home should do so

20/03: The UK Government has introduced guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Who this guidance is for:

  • people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well
  • those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus

The main messages:

  • if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
  • if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
  • for anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period
  • it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
  • if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
  • if you have coronavirus symptoms: do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you are staying at home. Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you are staying at home
  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
  • if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999

Further details on exams and grades announced:

  • This year’s summer exam series, including A levels, GCSEs and other qualifications, and all primary assessments, have been cancelled.
  • The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer.
  • There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to.
  • Ofqual and exam boards will be discussing with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that it is as fair as possible. More information will be provided as soon as possible.
  • The Government will not publish any school or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for 2020.
  • You can find out more here

Online isolation notes launched – providing proof of coronavirus absence from work:

  • People unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) can obtain an isolation note through a new online service.
  • An isolation note can be obtained without contacting a doctor, this will reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and prevent people needing to leave their homes.
  • For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.
  • The notes can be accessed through the NHS website and NHS 111 online. After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to the user. If they don’t have an email address, they can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.
  • For further information please click here

WHO Health Alert brings COVID-19 facts to billions via WhatsApp:

  • WHO is launching a messaging service with partners WhatsApp and Facebook to keep people safe from coronavirus.
  • This easy-to-use messaging service has the potential to reach 2 billion people and enables WHO to get information directly into the hands of the people that need it.
  • The service can be accessed through a link that opens a conversation on WhatsApp. Users can simply type “hi” to activate the conversation, prompting a menu of options that can help answer their questions about COVID-19.

Further announcements include:

19/03: The UK Government has announced the following:

18/03: The Prime Minister has said schools will close from Friday, March 2020 until further notice as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, except for looking after the children of keyworkers and vulnerable children. Read more here.

16/03: This guidance is for everyone. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers.

The Government is advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.[2]

This includes people:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • adults under 70 with an underlying health condition including diabetes, chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis, chronic heart disease, chronic kidney disease, being seriously overweight, or pregnant.
  • If you are instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds, then you are part of this advice.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible; Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this.
  • Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.
Power of Social Distancing

What is coronavirus?

10/03: It’s been impossible to avoid news of the coronavirus outbreak in recent weeks. Understandably, people may worry or feel uncertain about what the spread of the virus means for them or their loved ones. (Editor’s note: Time are uncertain, but please try not to worry. It’s not as bad as the media can sometimes make it out to be. Here’s more on a person with type 1 diabetes who recovered from coronavirus.)

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which have been around for a long time and can cause illness. In humans, coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections from a common cold to more severe diseases.

The coronavirus disease COVID-19 that is currently in the news is caused by a newly discovered type of coronavirus. Prior to the outbreak in Wuhan, China in December 2019, this new virus and the disease were unknown.

Read more in the forum:


The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Dry Cough

Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.

What is the risk?

Current reports indicate that illness as a result of the virus is generally mild, especially for children and young adults. In the majority of cases, those who contract the virus recover from the disease without needing special treatment. This is believed to be approximately 80% of affected individuals.[1]

Older people, those with a compromised immune system and individuals with underlying medical problems like diabetes, high blood pressure or heart problems, are at an increased risk of developing a serious illness.

It is estimated that approximately 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. People with a fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.[2]

Should I be worried?

It is quite normal to feel worried about how the COVID-19 outbreak affects us or the people around us.

However, it is important to remember that at present the risk of infection is low in those who have not travelled to affected areas and have not had contact with someone with the virus.

Read the story of a person with type 1 diabetes who fully recovered from COVID-19.

Coronavirus and diabetes

The prevention mechanisms outlined below are useful to reduce the risk of becoming infected and control the spread.

Diabetes can make you more susceptible to illness. It is one of the underlying conditions reported to be associated with the onset of more severe symptoms in individuals affected by the coronavirus.

However, there are steps to take to keep your blood glucose levels well controlled to help reduce your risk of becoming ill. Eating well, testing blood sugars regularly, reducing stress and getting plenty of sleep can help with blood sugar control.

Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, said: “Coronavirus or Covid-19 can cause complications in people with diabetes.

“If you have diabetes and you have symptoms such as cough, high temperature and feeling short of breath, you need to monitor your blood sugar closely and call the NHS 111 phone service.”

Simple steps to lower your risk of contracting the virus

There are actions you can take to reduce your risk of contracting the virus and help limit the spread among communities.

1. Wash your hands regularly

It might sound simple, but regular hand washing is important as it can help kill any viruses that may be on your hands.

You should thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (handy tip – sing happy birthday to yourself twice whilst washing). Take notice of areas you might miss including the back of your hands, between your fingers and around the nails. Or use an alcohol-based hand rub. The NHS recommends ensuring you wash your hands when you get home or arrive at work.

2. Maintain a distance

Avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Keeping at least a 1-meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing/ sneezing is recommended by The World Health Organisation.

3. Practice good hygiene

Be sure to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. You should not use your hands to do this. Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your bent elbow is more appropriate. It is important to dispose of used tissues immediately and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.

4. Keep your hands away from your face

Our hands touch many surfaces and can transfer a virus from surfaces into your body. A simple step to minimise this risk is to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

5. Stay informed and follow official advice

The spread of the coronavirus is an ongoing situation. It is important to stay informed with the latest information and to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 following advice from your healthcare provider, your national and local public health authority.

Sources of information:

If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.

Follow the directions of your local health authority.

National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent the spread of viruses and other infections.

The spread of coronavirus is an ongoing situation. Information contained within this programme is in accordance with World Health Organisation and NHS guidelines at the time of publishing.

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