Questions and answers regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)
How serious is COVID-19?
The evidence shows us that the vast majority of people who get this virus have relatively mild symptoms and make a full recovery. But in a small percentage of cases, the virus can cause more severe symptoms. This is particularly true for people with a weakened immune system, for older people and for those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.
What can you do to help?
The single most important thing you can do is follow NHS advice. Wash hands, and self-isolate when you get symptoms - this is vital.
Good hygiene, social distancing and self-isolation are critical in the fight to slow the risk of infections - both for yourself and importantly for others - particularly those over 70, those with underlying health conditions and those who are pregnant.
What are the symptoms?
If you are infected you may have very minor symptoms, minor symptoms or more severe symptoms, but the NHS cites two symptoms to look out for as:
- A new continuous cough
- A fever or high temperature
What should I do if I have either of the above symptoms?
- Protect others - don't call NHS 111
- Protect others - don't call, or go to your GP
- Protect others - don't go to your local hospital
If you live alone - isolate yourself at home immediately for 7 days
If you live with others - you should all isolate yourselves at home for 14 days - this 14-day period starts from the day the first person in the home noticed the symptoms.
The evidence suggests - your staying at home for 14 days will significantly reduce the number of people in the community that will become infected with the virus.
For anyone 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.
If at-risk people share your home - such as those who are older and those with underlying health conditions - it is advisable for them to move out, perhaps to stay with friends or family for the whole isolation period. They need to minimise contact with others during this period whether or not they are able to move out.
For further information read this government advice on staying at home and isolating.
What should I do if self-isolation is challenging?
- You can't manage with your symptoms at home
- Your conditions get worse
- Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
You should use the online 111 service or if you can't use the online service call 111
How can you avoid getting and spreading the virus?
Scientists think the virus spreads via droplets from coughs and sneezes and we know it spreads easily and can stay on surfaces for a while. It's possible that a lot of us will get it and be affected by it, but if you follow the advice below you will reduce your risk and the risk to others.
- Avoid non-essential contact with others - work from home if you can, avoid pubs, clubs, theatres and mass gatherings
- Wash your hands - with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds. Do this before leaving home and after returning home, before eating and drinking, and after coughing or sneezing
- Cover your mouth and nose - with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze - tissue in the bin and wash, or disinfect, your hands immediately
- Don't touch your face - especially your eyes, nose and mouth
- Clean surfaces - disinfect surfaces around you - especially mobiles, computers, keyboards, worktops, desks, handles...
- Stay at home for 7 (individual) or 14 (group) days - this means not going out at all - do this even if you think your symptoms are mild
- Ask for help - if you find it hard to stay at home - text, email, phone, friends, family, employers or your community to get help - but they mustn't come into your home
- Keep your distance - keep 2 metres (around 3 steps) away from others - including family - for the full period - do not go to your GP surgery or hospital
- Sleep alone - if you can sleep alone you must - it will help ensure people you live with aren't infected
- Keep washing your hands - often and for 20 seconds with soap and water helps
- Drink plenty of fluids - and take everyday pain killers like paracetamol if you need to
- Keep cleaning - so you keep surfaces clean
- Reduce contact with at risk people - people over 70, women who are pregnant and those with underlying health conditions are more at risk - help keep them safe.
When should you self-isolate?
- If you have a high temperature or new, continuous cough
- You must self-isolate for 7 days if you live alone
- You must all self-isolate for 14 days if you live with others (if someone gets symptoms during isolation all householders must remain symptom free for 7 days even if that means isolating for more than 14 days)
Self-isolation will save lives - it's important you follow the guidance if you're affected.
You do not need to call NHS 111 to self-isolate.
If your symptoms worsen during isolation or are no better after 7 days contact the NHS online coronavirus service . If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Why should you self-isolate?
If you have a high temperature or new continuous cough you must self-isolate for 7 days, if you live alone. If you live with others you must all self-isolate for 14 days.
Self-isolation will save lives - and while 90% of people will recover from this virus - some will get seriously ill and it is these people we need to protect.
After seven days, if you feel better and no longer have a high temperature, you can return to your normal routine.
How should I look after myself when I self-isolate?
• Get plenty of rest
• Drink plenty of water (fluids)
• Eat as healthily as you can
• To reduce pain and fever take paracetamol (if you use other mediation get in touch with your care provider)
• Keep in contact with friends and family by phone, video and online
Can I be tested for COVID-19?
The Government is fully aware of the importance of testing as many people as possible. The number of tests carried out throughout the country has been rapidly increased over the last six weeks, and the goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of April was met. We will now go even further, and work to boost the capacity for testing in the UK to 200,000 daily tests.
As well as patients in hospital and care settings, regardless of whether they are currently displaying symptoms, tests are already available for NHS and care staff, including their families. This allows our vital carers and healthcare workers to return to work without worrying about putting patients at risks if they, or a member of their family, start to show suspected symptoms, but then turn out not to be coronavirus. The Government has recently expanded the criteria so that NHS and care workers can now get tested even if they don’t have symptoms.
Thanks to the rapid increase in testing capabilities, everyone aged five and over who has coronavirus symptom is now eligible for a test. You can also apply on behalf of someone you live with, if they have symptoms. As you can imagine, demand for tests is very high at the moment, and people in hospital and essential workers such as NHS and care staff are rightly being prioritised. The Government will also start offering antibody tests to health and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus, representing further progress in our national testing programme.
The Government signed contracts to supply over 10 million tests from Roche and Abbott in the coming months. We will begin rolling these out in a phased way; prioritising our NHS and care staff, where there is a clear value in knowing who has had the virus. You can request a test online by visiting gov.uk/coronavirus. You may be able to choose between driving to a regional testing site, or getting a home test kit if one is available. There is a separate portal available on gov.uk/coronavirus for essential workers, care homes and some employers to request tests on behalf of their staff.
Please help the NHS and only ask for a test if you or someone you live with has symptoms now.
Do I need to wear a face mask?
If you can, wear a face covering when in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible, or when you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example, on public transport or in some shops.
Evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you. However, if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms, it may provide some protection for others you come into close contact with.
Face coverings do not replace social distancing. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (cough and/or high temperature), you and your household must isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this.
A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.
Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 2 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 face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and taking them off.
You can make face-coverings at home. The key thing is it should cover the mouth and nose.
What financial support can I get?
The Government have made a number of changes to benefits and sick pay and full details can be found on this website at at gov.uk/coronavirus. The following two organisations provide detailed support and advice about your money in light of coronavirus and new government measures.
- This up-to-date guide from the Money Advice Service is easy to follow and filled with good advice about sick pay and changes to claiming your benefits during this challenging time.
- The advice and benefits and grants calculators at Turn2Us are useful to get support if the coronavirus has had a negative impact on your finances.
Can I claim sick pay?
Will my employer be obliged to pay me while I stay at home?
Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from day 1 instead of day 4 for those affected by the virus.
What if I have a 'zero hours' contract?
You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. Check with your employer in the first instance and if you're not entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, you may be able to apply for Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) .
What if I’m self-employed?
You can apply for Universal Credit - the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.
What if the whole family has to stay at home so we have no income?
If no one is getting Statutory Sick Pay, the family can apply for Universal Credit - the Government have changed certain rules governing this benefit during the coronavirus period.
I'm worried about paying my tax - is there any help?
Yes - there are 2000 staff supporting a COVID-19 dedicated helpline for businesses and self-employed being run by HMRC Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 8am-4pm - 0800 0159 559 who will discuss possible remedies such as:
- agreeing an instalment arrangment
- suspending debt collection proceedings
- cancelling penalties and interest
I want to make a claim on my insurance - what can I do?
The Association of British Insurers has provided a FAQ sheet here with information about travel and business insurance in the light of the pandemic.