Concerned about coronavirus?
As Scotland responds to Coronavirus COVID-19, Age Scotland has compiled advice for older people and their families on how to avoid exposure to the virus, what to do if you are feeling unwell and the assistance available to you.
Get the most up to date advice from NHS Inform
The development of coronavirus COVID-19 is rapidly changing and is being monitored carefully by the NHS and Scottish Government. If you do not have symptoms and are looking for general information, a free NHS helpline has been set up on 0800 028 2816
Find out more about Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Age Scotland's free helpline 0800 12 44 222
Our team of advisers are available to offer reassurance, information, advice and friendship to older people, their families and carers. Call us today on 0800 12 44 222
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a virus that causes an illness called COVID-19. It affects your lungs and airways. For most people, it causes mild symptoms while for others it can be more serious and require hospital treatment.
It was first discovered in December 2019 and the first case in Scotland was discovered in March 2020.
This is a new illness and there is much still to be discovered but the NHS and Scottish Government are making extensive preparations to help contain coronavirus as much as possible and remain vigilant.
Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems. Older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions, including asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart or lung disease are more likely to become severely ill with the virus and should take extra care.
Although doctors have yet to confirm exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person, it is believed that like many viruses, it can be passed on through cough droplets.
The symptoms of Coronavirus
Common symptoms include:
- a cough
- high temperature
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste (known as anosmia)
However, these symptoms are similar to lots of other illnesses, like common colds and flu. If someone has these symptoms it doesn’t necessarily mean they have coronavirus.
How to avoid catching infections like coronavirus
Stay at home and avoid close contact with anyone who is not a member of your household. You should only leave your house for limited reasons like getting medicine or food, to exercise or spend time outside, if it is suitable for you to do so and while outside of your home you must keep at least 2 metres away from other people. You are now able to meet up with another household while outside, but physical distancing remains essential at all times.
One of the most important things you can do to reduce the risk of infection for yourself and the people around you is to wash your hands, frequently and thoroughly, with soap and hot water. You should wash your hands more often than you would normally.
You should wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or for two rounds of the song ‘Happy Birthday’, especially if you have left your home, before eating or handling food, and after sneezing or blowing your nose.
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. Then wash your hands.
Try to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
What should you do if you think you have symptoms?
Stay calm, isolate yourself from anyone else in your household, and use the NHS Inform online coronavirus service for advice or call the NHS 24 on 0800 028 2816to book a test.
You should do this if:
- you think you might have symptoms of coronavirus
- you’ve been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus
- you’ve been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days.
If you think you have might have coronavirus don’t go to your doctor’s surgery or hospital.
Our general advice
We would urge older people to follow guidance issued by NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government.
Scotland, like the rest of the UK, is now essentially under lockdown, although we starting to see certain restrictions lifted. This means that everyone now needs to reduce contact with others, whether they are experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus or not.
This will be an anxious time for many people, and will require people to make big changes to the way they live their day to day life. But following the advice of experts gives us the best chance to fight this outbreak.
One of the best thing people can do is to wash their hands more frequently than usual and for longer – as long as it takes to sing 'Happy Birthday' twice, and always use a disposable tissue if you sneeze or cough and throw it away after use.
Get the latest news from the Scottish Government
The guidance about Coronavirus COVID-19 could change rapidly. Make sure that you are well informed by following the advice of the Scottish Government and NHS24.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Connecting Scotland Programme
What should older people do?
What does self-isolation mean?
What does shielding mean?
What does physical distancing and social distancing mean?
What if I, or someone I live with feels ill?
I live alone, who can I speak to for a chat?
I want to help others, what can I do?
How do I get my shopping done if I’m self-isolating?
What if I need to see a GP for something other than Covid-19 symptoms?
Will my home care support stop?
I'm a carer for someone else. What should I do?
Can I use public transport?
What about international travel?
What can I do right now to feel less worried?
Is my pet at risk from Covid-19?
Do I need to wear a face mask?
Help us support more older people
Demand for our vital services is increasing rapidly. Please help us to be there for older people in Scotland who desperately need us during this crisis.