Advice on caring for someone you live with
If you provide care and support for an older person who you live with, you may be wondering how to continue caring...
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.
From Wednesday the 13 May, there is new Government guidance on coronavirus. People who are classed as 'extremely vulnerable' and are shielding should continue to do so until the 30 June. If you are not in this category, then you will be able to leave your house for the following reasons:
Restrictions are starting to ease but it's still important that you observe government guidance to reduce the spread of the virus. When you go outside you should stay at least 2 metres apart from others (excluding members of your own household) and you should continue to wash your hands with soap and water frequently and dry them thoroughly.
More information about changes can be found on the Government website.
Everyone in the UK must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, have been given powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
People aged 70 and over, people with long term conditions, and pregnant women are understood to be at an increased risk of severe illness if they become infected with the coronavirus.
While the guidance for these groups of people is the same, people who are more vulnerable may wish to limit their time outdoors and social contact further.
There are a smaller number of people who are at a very high risk. The Government guidance for this group is still to 'shield' until the end of June. This means avoiding all face-to-face social contact, remaining in your home at all times and only allowing essential visitors, such as NHS staff or carers (including family carers) to enter your home. If you need to have something delivered or if family and friends are bringing shopping or other essentials, it must be left at the doorstep.
In the past weeks and months, people classed as extremely vulnerable will have been contacted by their GP or hospital and have been advised if this applies to them.
If you need more information or are unsure if you should be shielding you can check the Government guidance and see below for more information.
You need to self-isolate and not leave the house if or anyone you live with have symptoms of coronavirus.
There's more information the symptoms of coronavirus below. You might like to read about staying safe and well at home too.
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.
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:
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.
The most common symptoms include:
If you have any of these symptoms, however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 7 days. This means you must not leave the house at all. After 7 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 7 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 have produced a diagram to help explain how long you must stay inside for. You can view that here.
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:
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 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.
If you're over 65 and have symptoms of coronavirus you can now apply to be tested. Go to GOV.UK to find out more.
Everyone over the age of five who develops symptoms of coronavirus is now able to access a test.
Some people can get tested even if they don’t have symptoms of coronavirus. These are:
You can book a test through the government online portal. You need to have the test done within the first 5 days of having symptoms, but it is most effective within the first three days. For those unable to access the internet call 119.
There are different ways to get a test. You can be tested at one of 40 drive through testing sites in England. To be tested in this way you will need to be able to drive by car to the appointment. You can also order a home testing kit, which will be delivered to your door so you don’t need to leave your house. Supplies of these are currently limited but will be increased over time.
In some areas there may not be enough tests available so even if you are eligible you may be unable to get one. People in hospital and essential workers, including NHS and social care staff, will be prioritised for tests. More tests are made available every hour on the website so check back later if you have been unable to book one.
The current test available looks for the presence of coronavirus and is taken in two samples – one from the back of your throat and one from inside your nose. At the drive through testing sites, you will remain in your car while a doctor or nurses takes this from you. If you are doing the test yourself at home, take a look at this video to see how to take the swab.
You will be notified of the test results a few days later.
You are able to apply for a test of behalf of someone else, as long as they are over 13 and you have their permission to do so.
Coronavirus has been declared a ‘pandemic’ by the World Health Organisation. This means there is significant and ongoing spread of the disease across lots of countries.
The Government has called coronavirus a major public health emergency and the most ‘significant threat this country has faced for decades’.
So why is coronavirus such a significant problem? There are a few very simple reasons:
The Government, advised by the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific Adviser, are trying to stop the virus spreading and protect people who are most at risk. They're doing this by:
This will have a big impact on all of us, and on businesses, so the Government is also taking steps to support the economy and people whose jobs have been affected.
Anyone can catch coronavirus. It spreads easily from person to person and, if we did nothing, would continue to do so until most people had been infected.
Most people (around 4 out of 5) who get coronavirus will experience mild to moderate symptoms. This might feel like anything from a run of the mill common cold to the flu. For most people this will mean they need to get plenty of rest, stay hydrated and take normal over-the-counter remedies, such as paracetamol.
Unfortunately, around 1 in 5 people who get coronavirus will become severely unwell and need hospital treatment.
Around 1 in 20 people will need critical (intensive) care in hospital.
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:
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:
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.
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.
The government advises that you cover your face when using public transport or in a crowded shop.
You should wash your hands frequently:
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.
If possible, you should wear a face covering over your nose and mouth where ALL of the below apply:
For example, you should cover your face when using public transport or in a crowded shop. You do not need to wear a face covering in open spaces, for example when exercising outside. People who find it hard to breathe while wearing a face covering do not need to wear one.
It's possible to make your own mask by using a scarf or bandanna. It just needs to cover your nose and mouth and allow you to breathe easily through it.
The Government does not advise using medical masks as these should be reserved for people on the frontline, for example people working in the NHS or care workers.
Make sure you wash your hands before putting your mask on and taking it off. When wearing the mask, avoid touching your face. Don't take the mask on and off to talk to other people.
To remove your mask make sure you remove it from behind (do not touch the front of mask), and clean your hands afterwards with soap and hot water. You should wash the mask after every use. You can put it in with your laundry and use normal detergent. If you are not able to wash the mask straight away after wearing it, store it in a plastic bag until you have time.
If you develop symptoms of coronavirus, you should still not go outside, as wearing a mask will not stop you spreading it.
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.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, do not visit your GP surgery or hospital. Find out what to do here.
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.
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