COVID-19 is an illness that can impact on the lungs and airways. It’s triggered by a new mutation of the Coronavirus.
- New illness that affects the respiratory system
- Currently no treatment as such for the condition
- People with the illness should self-isolate until they have recovered
If you are experiencing respiratory symptoms, a fever, or cough, or think you may have coronavirus and would like to speak to a doctor, we are temporarily offering 10 minute online video consultations with our clinicians at a cost of £1. This fee will be donated to a response fund for the disease. When booking your appointment, just use the promo code CORONA.
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PLEASE NOTE: This page contains information on coronavirus and COVID-19. However, because this is a new strain of this type of virus, researchers and doctors are learning new information about the condition as time progresses. So information and guidance on this subject can change fairly quickly. We will strive to ensure that we keep this page as up-to-date as possible. For the most up-to-date available advice on coronavirus, check the gov.uk website.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an illness that has only recently emerged. It can affect the lungs and airways, and it’s caused by a virus, known as coronavirus.
It is understood that the virus originated in Wuhan, in China. The first confirmed, diagnosed case of the virus was reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 8 December 2019.
It has gone on to affect nearly every country in the world, affecting hundreds of thousands of people globally.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
The NHS (National Health Service) has indicated that symptoms consist of a high temperature (specifically, you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) and a new, persistent cough.
The WHO advise that common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
Some people with coronavirus also experience loss of taste and smell.
It is important to note however that symptoms can also be more extreme. In more severe cases, infection may trigger pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome, and can result in death.
Furthermore, some people may not experience any symptoms, and can be asymptomatic. Subsequently, there have been reported cases of transmission from one individual to another without any knowledge of that person carrying the virus in the first place. This is not however understood to be the primary form of transmission.
Given that the virus can be asymptomatic, every person should try to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
You must social distance and stay alert.
The UK has gone through a period of ‘lockdown’ which was put in place by the government on 23rd March 2020. The rules have since been updated and certain criteria relaxed.
The current guidance in England is:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work from home if you can
- Limit contact with other people
- Keep your distance if you do go out (at least two metres)
- Wash your hands regularly
You should not leave your home if you or anyone in your household has Coronavirus symptoms.
Under the above people are now permitted to be outside without a ‘reasonable excuse’ to do so.
Groups of up to six people can meet up outdoors, so long as those from separate households maintain social distance.
People are being encouraged to return to work, if it is not possible to work from home.
The advice may differ depending on where you live. We recommend checking your devolved government or local council website for further guidance.
People in most parts of England may also now:
- meet in a group of up to two households in any setting whether it be indoors or outdoors. In these cases, social distance should be maintained as much as possible.
- exercise outside as often as they wish;
- travel to parks and other outdoor areas with people from their household;
- meet a group of up to six people, at a time, from outside their household. A social distance of two metres should be maintained;
- stay overnight at an address other than your own home;
- wear a face covering while in areas where it is difficult to maintain social distance (such as public transport);
- avoid public transport, other than for essential journeys.
Across the UK, advice has been re-emphasised on the importance of keeping a two metre social distance from all people outside your household, as much as possible. In situations where a distance of two metres cannot be maintained, then you should try to keep at least one metre distance apart.
It’s also important that people continue to wash their hands thoroughly, with increased frequency and each time they leave or enter a building.
From July 4th more businesses are able to open up including restaurants, pubs, cinemas, places of worship and hotels.
There are guidelines in place for the safe opening of these establishments including maintaining records of staff and customers. Please see the government website for further information.
- Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren’t clean
- Hold a party or gathering where it is difficult to maintain social distancing
People at particularly high risk of becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus have been contacted and advised to ‘shield’ (which means staying at home and not going outside at all for a specified period).
What are the causes of coronavirus?
It’s thought that, like similar viruses, it is transmitted between people via cough droplets, or from touching a contaminated surface then ingesting the viral cells (by touching your eyes or mouth or touching food).
Patient groups who are at greater risk of contracting the illness are understood to be people over the age of 65, and people with underlying health conditions, or are immunocompromised.
Can you prevent COVID-19?
While there is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood that you’ll contract the condition or spread it.
It’s recommended that you:
- Stay at home
- Wash your hands with soap and water frequently, for a minimum of 20 seconds
- Make sure that you wash your hands when you arrive at work and return home
- If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitiser gel to wash your hands
- Use a tissue (rather than your hands) to cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze
- Dispose of used tissues in the bin as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
- Where you can, avoid any close contact with people who are unwell
- Travel on public transport only if necessary
- Work from home, if you have the capacity to do so
- Use phone, services online or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS facilities
- Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren’t clean
NHS Digital have contacted patients who are at particularly high risk of becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus. If this applies to you, they will provide you with instructions as to what to do.
You should refrain from contacting your healthcare team at this point. They will contact you.
Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?
In spite of approximately 35 companies and academic institutions working towards creating a vaccine for coronavirus, with at least four companies reported to be in the process of testing their vaccines in animals, there isn’t, at time of writing, a vaccine for coronavirus. Typically, it takes 10 years or more for a vaccine to get regulatory approval, with clinical trials having to be conducted before vaccines can be regulated. The sheer quantities of a vaccine that would be required for COVID-19 also present potential production challenges for companies.
It has been estimated by senior public health officials in England that early 2021 is the absolute earliest a vaccine will become publicly available.
Currently, containment and delay are the best means of restricting the spread of the virus.
Can I get tested for COVID-19?
Anyone who has symptoms can arrange a coronavirus test. Tests for essential workers are being prioritised.
In May, the UK Government launched a test and trace system. If you test positive for the virus, you’ll be asked to sign in to a portal and provide details of people you’ve been in contact with, so that these people can also be contacted. If you’re notified through this system that you may have been exposed to the virus, you’ll be advised to stay at home for 14 days, and to take an antigen test (available through the NHS).
There are private options available for people seeking testing for coronavirus online.
Until very recently, tests for coronavirus only screened for active cases of the virus. Samples - even though they can be collected at home - need to be analysed in a pathology lab. Read more about safe and reliable tests for COVID-19.
There is now a coronavirus antibody test available through our UK pathology lab. At present, this can only be ordered by healthcare professionals for use in a clinical setting.
For people who test positive for coronavirus antibodies, this means they have contracted the virus at some stage. Because COVID-19 immunity is still yet to be fully understood, it is advised people who test positive continue to practice social distancing and continue to follow the advice of their government.
Is COVID-19 treatable?
There are no licensed treatments for coronavirus currently. Treatment, where required, currently focuses on easing symptoms and supporting breathing where required.
But many people with mild symptoms will make a recovery without treatment.
Antiviral drug combinations are being explored.
There have been reports in the media recently suggesting that malaria treatments chloroquine (Nivaquine) and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) may be useful in treating or protecting against coronavirus, but in truth trials are ongoing and these drugs are not yet authorised for this purpose.
It’s important you follow the government guidance on self-isolation (see below) if you think you have coronavirus. If you would like to speak to a healthcare professional, our service is offering 10 minute consultations with UK clinicians for £1.
Just book an appointment and use the promo code ‘CORONA’ during checkout.
What should I do if I think I have COVID-19?
If you think you may have coronavirus, the guidance is as follows:
- You should remain at home if you have either a high temperature (your chest or back feel hot to touch) or you have a new, persistent cough
- Refrain from going to a GP surgery, a pharmacy or a hospital
- Get a test to check whether you have Coronavirus as soon as possible
- If you are experiencing symptoms, remain at home for 7 days
- If you live with other people, they should remain at home for 14 days from the day the first person experienced symptoms
- In the event that you live with someone who is 70 years or over, has a long-term health condition, is pregnant or who has a weakened immune system, you should try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days
- If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as often as you can
You can also request an antigen test from the NHS to confirm whether you have the virus.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
- You feel that you can’t cope with the symptoms you’re experiencing at home
- Your condition worsens
- Your symptoms do not improve after 7 days
You should only call 111 if you can’t get help online.
How is coronavirus diagnosed?
Coronavirus can be diagnosed via testing, this can be done via the NHS website.
Will I need tests?
If you have symptoms of Coronavirus, you should arrange to be tested as soon as possible.
You can also arrange a test for someone you live with if they have symptoms.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, children have to be over five years old to be tested.
If you feel unable to cope with your symptoms at home, your condition deteriorates, or your symptoms do not improve after 7 days, use the 111 coronavirus service. You should only call 111 if you cannot obtain help online.
People who have coronavirus symptoms can call 119 to request an antigen test from the NHS.
People who want to get tested for coronavirus can also do so privately. There are currently two test types which are privately available.
One is the COVID-19 swab test, which detects current infection in patients.
This test requires a sample, which must be collected at home by the patient, and returned to a UK pathology lab to be analysed. So if you do order a test for coronavirus online, make sure it's backed by an accredited UK pathology lab, and not a home test kit that claims to give you a result in minutes.
The other is a coronavirus blood test to detect antibodies, with positive results being indicative of previous infection.
At present, this can only be ordered by healthcare professionals and used in a clinical setting.
Read more about getting tests for coronavirus online safely.
How is coronavirus managed?
Treatments for coronavirus are being explored, but there is no licensed treatment available yet. Because there is no specific treatment for the illness, you should isolate yourself from all other people until you have recovered.
The following measures can help with symptoms at home, and prevent the illness from spreading:
- Anyone who has symptoms should self-isolate for at least 7 days
- If you live with others, they should remain at home for at least 14 days, to prevent spreading the infection outside of the home
- If anyone else in your home gets symptoms, they should remain at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms emerge (even if that entails them being at home for longer than 14 days)
- In the event that you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has weakened immunity, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days
- If you have to remain at home together, try to avoid each other as much as you can
- If you continue to have a high temperature after 7 days, you should remain at home until your temperature returns to normal
- Aim to ensure that you are at least 2 meters (3 steps) from any other person in your home, especially older people or people with long-term health conditions
- Ask friends, family and delivery services to deliver items such as food shopping and medicines, but avoid any contact with them
- Sleep alone, if you are able to
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water regularly for a minimum of 20 seconds
- Try to avoid any contact with older people and people with long-term health conditions
- Consume plenty of water and take paracetamol to help ease symptoms
- Do not have any visitors, and request that people deposit deliveries outside
- Refrain from leaving the house (for instance, to go for a walk or purchase necessities).
You should use the NHS online coronavirus 111 service in the following circumstances only:
- You feel that you can’t cope with symptoms at home
- Your condition worsens
- Your symptoms do not improve after 7 days
If you have flu-like symptoms which you are concerned about and would like to speak to a doctor, you can book a 10 minute online video consultation with a member of our health team for £1. The cost will be donated to a coronavirus research fund. Simply add the voucher code CORONA during checkout, and book an appointment at a time that is convenient for you.
How is coronavirus treated?
There is no defined treatment for coronavirus at this stage. People with a high temperature or a new, persistent cough are advised to stay at home for 7 days. Should your condition worsen, or your symptoms not improve after 7 days, or if you feel unable to cope with your symptoms, use the 111 coronavirus service (if you can’t get help online).
While treatments such as chloroquine (Nivaquine) and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) are being trialled, amongst a range of other candidates, there are no antiviral treatments licensed for coronavirus at present. Read more about drugs being trialled for coronavirus.
How long will it take for me to recover?
Recovery depends on the strength of your immune system, and so there isn’t a definitive figure on this. You should remain in isolation until you have recovered.
Can I travel whilst efforts are made to contain and treat coronavirus?
The Foreign Office (FCO) is advising UK nationals against all non-essential international travel. At time of writing, border closures and other travel restrictions are in place across the world. This is still the advice from the FCO but it is under constant review.
Can I consult a doctor about coronavirus online?
If you develop symptoms such as a cough, fever and breathing difficulties, and you are worried about these symptoms, you can speak to one of our doctors via our online video consultation service. We are offering 10 minute consultations at a cost of £1, by adding the voucher code CORONA. This fee will be donated to research into the virus. Book an appointment at a suitable time for you.
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