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
Why aren’t more people being tested?
The Government is trying to delay the spread of infection so has prioritised testing for the most at risk of severe illness from the virus rather than divert resources to widespread testing. As at the 18th of March over 53,000 tests have been completed. Plans s to test up to 25,000 per day have been announced. Testing currently includes people in hospital who have pneumonia or acute respiratory illness. The reason this is being done is to make sure we are using our valuable NHS resources as well as we can. By focusing our testing on the most vulnerable we help relieve pressure on the NHS and save more lives.
Do I need to wear a face mask?
When you're doing normal day-to-day activities face masks do little to protect people from viruses. The best way to reduce any risk of infections is with good hygiene, like washing your hands, not touching your face and avoiding social contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.
Healthcare professionals may wear special masks if they're spending hours each day looking after people who have tested positive for coronavirus, or may have been infected. If someone has been told they have coronavirus, they may be advised to wear a mask to protect others.
What financial support can I get?
The Government have made a number of changes to benefits and sick pay and will likely take more steps over the coming days and weeks. 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.