Stay local and keep Wales safe
You must observe social distancing, wash your hands regularly, if you're meeting one other household, stay outdoors and stay local, work from home if you can. You must stay at home if you or anyone you live with has symptoms.
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.
Cases of coronavirus first emerged in Wuhan City in China in December last year and have quickly spread. There are now over 180 countries and provinces reporting hundreds of thousands of cases worldwide, including in the UK.
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:
- an infectious person gets the virus on their hands (for example by coughing in their hands) and then touches a commonly used surface, such as a door handle, which someone else then touches.
- someone gets close to (less than 1-2 metres) someone who is infectious.
This is why we are being advised to avoid close contact with others, wash our hands thoroughly and frequently, and wipe down surfaces with disinfectant.
The average ‘incubation period’ – the time between coming into contact with the virus and experiencing symptoms – is 5 days, but it could be anything between 1 and 14 days. This is why the Government is asking everyone who has come into contact with the virus to self-isolate.
People are most likely to spread the virus to other people when they are experiencing symptoms, so it’s important to stay at home for at least 7 days (or longer if your symptoms persist). You should also stay at home for 14 days if a member of your household has symptoms of coronavirus.
However, don’t forget people can be infectious before they know they are ill.
Those at 'high risk'
The Government has also issued guidance for a smaller number of people who are at very high risk. They have been advised to self-isolate at home, also known as ‘shielding’ and should continue to do so until the 16 August 2020.
The advice for those shielding to stay at home at all times has changed. This is because there are fewer people with coronavirus and so the risk of catching coronavirus has reduced. The risk of catching coronavirus when outside is lower than inside providing social distancing and good hygiene is strictly followed.
Those who've been shielding at home are now able to leave home to exercise or meet outside with people from another household. You should strictly follow social distancing (2 metres or 3 steps away from another person) and you should practice good hygiene including frequent hand washing for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitiser.
To see the latest advice from the Chief Medical Officer for Wales, please visit the Welsh Government website
NHS online coronavirus service
Get advice from the NHS on what to do if you think you may have symptoms of, or been exposed to, coronavirus (COVID-19).
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The most common symptoms include:
- a persistent dry cough
- a high temperature - 37.7°C or above
a loss or changed sense of taste or smell.
If you have any of these symptoms, however mild, you must self isolate for atleast seven days. This means you must not leave the house at all. After seven days, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to continue to self-isolate.
If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal. You do not need to self-isolate after seven days if you still have a cough or your sense of taste and smell is not back to normal as these symptoms may remain after the infection has gone.
If you live with other people and you're the first person in your house to develop symptoms, then you must self-isolate for 7 days. If after 7 days you still have a high temperature, you should stay inside until it has returned to normal. All other household members must stay at home for 14 days if they stay well. The 14-day period starts from the day the first person in the house becomes unwell.
If during this 14-day period another member of the household becomes unwell, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day at which they develop symptoms. For example, if they became unwell on day 3 day of self-isolation then they would have to stay inside until day 10. However, if they become unwell on day 13 then they will have to stay inside for an additional 7 days, meaning that they will be inside for 20 days.
The Government has produced a diagram to help explain how long you must stay inside for.
After people have completed their period of self-isolation, they should continue to follow Government advice on social distancing. This means they should only leave the house for exceptional circumstances.
Other symptoms people are reporting include:
- a sore throat
- shortness of breath
- a blocked / runny nose
- stomach discomfort and diarrhoea.
Can I get tested for coronavirus?
Before requesting a test you must have at least one of the following symptoms:
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- loss of or change to sense of smell or taste
Please visit the Welsh Government website for more information on who can and how to apply to be tested.
Are some people more at risk from coronavirus?
Although most people of any age will only experience mild or moderate symptoms, 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
There are also some conditions that put people at particularly high risk. The following people may be affected and should receive a letter from the NHS advising them what to do:
- People who've received solid organ transplants.
- People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
- People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
- People on immunosuppression therapies which significantly increase the risk of infection.
- Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
- People with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy.
- People undergoing radical radiotherapy for lung cancer.
- People with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment.
- People having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer.
- People having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors.
- People who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- People with kidney disease.
Pregnant women have also been advised to be extra careful.
If you have a health condition on the Government’s list of extremely vulnerable people but have not been contacted by the NHS, you should speak to your GP or hospital clinician about your concerns.
How can I reduce my risk of catching or spreading coronavirus?
When you leave your house, you need to stay at least 2 metres away from other people (except members of your own household).
Make sure you wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly, with soap and hot water, particularly when you have been outside.
I have existing medical needs and upcoming appointments. What should I do?
You may feel like you should avoid getting help for medical conditions because you’re worried about putting the NHS under additional pressure. But your health needs are just as important as before and you should seek care and treatment that you need. The NHS have systems in place to ensure that essential care is still available for anyone who needs it.
If you become unwell you can still speak to your GP, although they may do this over the phone rather than face-to-face.
If you have an existing health condition, you should continue to follow your treatment plan. If you have any concerns then contact their GP or specialist.
If you need urgent medical help, whether or not you have coronavirus symptoms, you should contact 111 or call 999 in an emergency.
Some medical appointments have been postponed. This is to help stop the spread of coronavirus and to protect the NHS.
- Cancer treatment and clinically urgent care will still be treated as a priority, but your treatment plan might be reviewed. They'll consider whether the risks of your treatment have changed as a result of coronavirus. Your clinical team will talk to you and answer questions you may have about any changes to your treatment or appointments.
- There’s going to be some changes to outpatient appointments. Some people will be asked to have their appointment over the phone or by online video consultation. Other patients will find their appointment has been rearranged.
- Patients who need to have their appointments face-to-face will be asked not to bring a friend or relative with them, unless completely necessary.
- Most hospitals will contact patients with changes to their appointments, but if you haven’t heard you could look at the hospital’s website for guidance.
- All non-emergency operations are being suspended for at least three months. This is to help keep patients safe and to make sure the NHS have the resources they need to tackle coronavirus. This will include hip and knee replacements, cataract surgery, as well as minor surgery. We know lot of people will have already been waiting a long time for their treatment and this news might be upsetting and frustrating.
- Your GP may also postpone routine appointments, such as medicine reviews, check-ups and annual health checks, or try to hold appointments over the phone or on video chat. It’s important that you let your GP know if you have developed symptoms since your last check-up so they can decide if you need to be seen.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, do not visit your GP surgery or hospital.
If you have health conditions which make you extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and have been advised to shield, then you should contact your GP or specialist for advice on how to continue receiving your care and treatment.
How often should I wash my hands?
You should also make sure you wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly, with soap and hot water.
You should wash your hands:
- for at least 20 seconds or for two rounds of the song ‘Happy Birthday’
- when you get home after going out
- before eating or handling food
- after sneezing or blowing your nose.
Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. You should also make sure you catch coughs or sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve – not your hands – and put used tissues in the bin.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
If you have been identified as someone who is extremely vulnerable, and you develop a high temperature or a new, continuous cough you should seek clinical advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.
If you are not classed as extremely vulnerable, you don’t need to tell the NHS you’re staying at home and you won’t be tested for coronavirus. However, you can use the 111 online coronavirus service to check your symptoms. You can use this service to sign-up to get daily check-ins by text, and to access support if you do not have friends and family who are able to help you whilst you are self-isolating.
You should also get in touch with the NHS if:
- you don’t feel better after 7 days
- your symptoms are getting worse
- you feel you can’t cope with your symptoms at home.
You should do this by calling 111 or using the NHS online coronavirus service. Do not go to your doctor’s surgery or to hospital.
It is also important that you stay at home and for at least 7 days if you have a new, continuous cough or high temperature, even if you're feeling OK.
If after 7 days you still have a high temperature you should stay inside until it returns to normal.
If you live with other people and you are the first person to develop symptoms, you should stay inside for 7 days. If someone else in your household has developed symptoms you should stay inside for 14 days, or until you develop symptoms yourself. If you do develop symptoms then you should stay at home for 7 days, even if that means you end up staying inside for longer than the 14 days.
NHS online coronavirus service
Get advice from the NHS on what to do if you think you may have symptoms of, or been exposed to, coronavirus (COVID-19).
I'm a carer for someone else. What should I do?
This is a difficult time for people with caring responsibilities. It's clearly important to follow the Government guidance above, but we know this can be difficult to follow at times.
If you have caring responsibilities, Carers UK suggests looking at putting a contingency plan in place, and if you can, make cover arrangements with trusted neighbours, friends or family members. Take a look at their information on coronavirus.
If you receive help with formal care services to support your caring responsibilities, you may wish to speak to your care provider or local authority should have you have queries or concerns about continuity of care.
The Government will be publishing specific advice for carers soon, hopefully within the next 7-10 days.
If you are an informal carer for someone who has been identified as extremely vulnerable then you should only be providing care that is essential such as washing, dressing and feeding and should consider other contingency plans if you become unwell and can't continue to support them.
You should also make sure you are practicing good hygiene at all times.
Do I need to wear a face mask?
During normal day-to-day activities face masks don't protect people from viruses like coronavirus. The best way to reduce any risk of infections is with good hygiene, like washing your hands, and avoiding direct or close contact (within 2 metres) with any potentially infected person.
Health and social care professionals may wear masks if they're 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.
I’m worried about someone. What should I do?
There are still plenty of things we can all do to help others during this time.
- Stay in touch with people over the phone, by post, online. We may not be able to see each other in person, but we can still spend time together.
- For those who are able to have face to face contact with others, you could also pop by for a chat, but you must remember to take precautions outlined above and by the Government.
- Ask people if they need any help with shopping for essentials or offer to help by running some errands. It could be that someone needs a prescription collecting from the pharmacy, for example.
I'm feeling really anxious about coronavirus
It's completely understandable to be worried about the impact coronavirus may have on you or those you care about. Try to stay calm and follow the official advice from the Government.