Coronavirus: what you need to know

Coronavirus is a virus that affects the lungs and airways. There are some important steps you should take to help protect yourself and reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading.

Coronavirus causes an illness called COVID-19. Most people who catch it will only have mild symptoms, but some people may need to be treated in hospital.

The symptoms of coronavirus are a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath. But those symptoms are very common, so if you have them it doesn’t necessarily mean you have coronavirus.

The Government has said everyone must follow social distancing measures. 

Go to GOV.UK to help you understand what you should and shouldn’t do.

There are some people who are more at risk from coronavirus, such as people who are over 70, those with an underlying health condition or those who are pregnant. It’s particularly important they follow the Government’s advice and avoid close contact with other people. 

The Government is also advising people to stay home for 7 days if they live alone, or 14 days if they live with other people, if they or someone they live with have either or both of the following:

  • A high temperature.
  • A new, continuous cough.

You don’t need to tell the NHS if you’re staying at home. If you still have symptoms after 7 days, or think you need medical care, call NHS 111 for help. Don’t go to your doctor’s surgery or hospital – call 111. 

Because COVID-19 is a new illness, we don’t know everything about it yet. But by taking some simple, effective measures, we can all reduce our risk of catching it or transmitting it to other people. 

The best thing to do to reduce the risk of getting or spreading coronavirus is to stay at home, and wash your hands regularly.

You should wash your hands:

  • more often than you would normally
  • for at least 20 seconds, or for two rounds of the song ‘Happy Birthday’
  • before you eat or handle food
  • after you come home from being outside
  • after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose
  • before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Watch this video from the NHS on how to wash your hands effectively

If you’re feeling worried about coronavirus

It’s completely understandable to be concerned about coronavirus and the impact it might have on you and those you care about, particularly if you’re living with health conditions.

Try to stay calm and keep following good hygiene practises like washing your hands regularly.

Have a look at Age UK’s information on coronavirus