Coronavirus information for Wales
Help keep Wales safe :
- Get both your jabs and booster
- Outside is safer than inside
- If you have symptons, stay at home and avoid contact with other people
- Wear a face covering in health and social care settings and crowded indoor places.
Coronavirus is a virus that affects your lungs and airways. Find out about the symptoms of coronavirus and the steps to take to stop it spreading.
What is coronavirus?
Novel Coronavirus, formally called COVID-19, is part of a family of viruses that include the common cold and respiratory illnesses such as SARS.
It affects your lungs and airways. For many people, it causes mild symptoms while for others it can be much more serious and require hospital treatment.
What are new variants of coronavirus?
All viruses can mutate and change over time. Sometimes these changes can effect the way a virus behaves, for example it can become more infectious and pass more easily from person to person.
Scientists in the UK and around the world have been tracking coronavirus strains as they have emerged over the last two years. When scientist have evidence that a particular strain may have changed in ways that make it more likely to cause infections, it's officially labelled a ‘Variant of Concern’. The most recent ‘Variant of Concern’ has been labelled Omicron.
How does coronavirus spread?
Coronavirus is very infectious, which means it spreads very easily.
It spreads in much the same way as the common cold or flu - through infected respiratory droplets like coughs and sneezes – and passes from person to person. This can happen when:
- Droplets of the virus are ‘shed’ by an infected person when they breath, talk and sing. These droplets can build up in the air in enclosed spaces where other people breath them in
- Someone gets close (less than 1-2 metres) to someone who is infectious
- An infectious person gets the virus on their hands (for example by coughing in their hand) and then touches a commonly used surface, such as a door handle, which someone else then touches.
Coronavirus mainly spreads through the air, which is why we're being advised to avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces. Wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces also reduces the spread of the virus by catching the droplets when people talk, cough and breathe. Washing our hands thoroughly and frequently, and wiping down surfaces with disinfectant can also help reduce the spread of the virus.
The average ‘incubation period’ – the time between coming into contact with the virus and experiencing symptoms – is five days, but it could be anything between one and 14 days.
People are most likely to spread the virus to other people when they are experiencing symptoms, which is why it is important to stay at home if you have symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus.
However, don’t forget people can also be infectious before they know they are ill.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The most common symptoms include:
- a persistent dry cough - where you have been coughing a lot for more than an hour or have had three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- a high temperature - where you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- a loss or changed sense of taste or smell.
Other symptoms people are reporting include:
- shortness of breath
- a sore throat
- a blocked / runny nose
- stomach discomfort and diarrhoea
- confusion or delirium.
If you develop any coronavirus symptoms, you should stay at home and avoid contact with others.
Are some people more at risk from coronavirus?
While we're all at risk of catching coronavirus, for most people (around 4 in 5) the symptoms will only be mild to moderate.
However, we do know that some people are much more likely than others to become seriously unwell. This includes:
- people aged over the 70, even if you're otherwise fit and well
- people of any age living with long-term health conditions which mean you'd normally be offered the flu jab.
Government guidance also applies to these groups. However, you may also want to consider keeping your social interactions lower and visit busy places at quieter times. For example, some supermarkets have a designated hour of shopping for vulnerable customers.
At the start of the pandemic, some people were advised to shield because they were considered particularly high risk. The Welsh Government has issued new guidance on protecting people defined on medical grounds as clinically extremely vulnerable from coronavirus (COVID-19) – previously known as ‘shielding’, you can view the guidance on the Welsh Government website.
How can I reduce my risk of catching or spreading coronavirus?
Just because the government's guidance has changed, it doesn't mean there aren't measures you can still take to reduce the risk of spreading or catching coronavirus:
- Spend time with others outdoors where possible or ensure indoor spaces are well ventilated (for example by opening the windows)
- Keep your distance from others
- Wear a face covering in health and social care settings and in busy indoor settings
- Don't meet in big groups with people you don't know
- Avoid busy places where possible
- Self-isolate if you feel unwell or test positive for coronavirus.