Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated:

Reviewed by:

Dr Rhianna McClymont

, Lead GP at Livi

Medically reviewed

With information about coronavirus (COVID-19) being updated regularly it’s important to read the very latest information on coronavirus on NHS.UK.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

  • A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back.

  • A new, continuous cough – this means you have started coughing repeatedly.

  • Loss or change to your sense of smell.

Another symptom of coronavirus is:

  • Shortness of breath.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can start like normal flu , but it can progress to pneumonia with shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. As with other viruses of this nature, it is thought to cause more severe symptoms in at-risk patient groups. These groups include older people, aged over 70, those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and those with long-term conditions such as diabetes or cancer.

When to seek help

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • You feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home.

  • Your condition gets worse.

  • Your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.

Call 111 ONLY if you cannot get help through the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

You must self isolate for 14 days if you have been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus. Close contact means:

  • Living in the same house.

  • Contact with their body fluids.

  • Face-to-face contact, for example talking for more than a few minutes.

  • Being coughed on.

  • Being within 2 metres of the person for more than 15 minutes.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service, stay indoors and avoid close contact with other people.

What does self-isolation mean?

Self isolation means staying indoors at the same place and avoiding contact with other people. This will help prevent spread to your family, friends and the wider community. Do not go outside. Get family members or friends to run errands for you, such as groceries and medications, but make sure they have as little physical contact as possible with you to prevent them from also catching the virus. Get more information here.

If you need a note for self isolation click here.

What is the treatment?

There is no specific treatment for the virus and, as with other flu viruses, antibiotics do not work.

Patients must self isolate for at least 14 days – this means staying in your home and resting whilst your body fights the illness. If your condition deteriorates you must seek medical help, by using the NHS 111 online service.


How is coronavirus spread?

Although it’s not certain, it’s likely that the Coronavirus spreads through large droplet transmission – for example droplets that come out of the nose and mouth when someone who is infected coughs or sneezes. They typically spread about one metre. They hang suspended in the air for a while before landing on surfaces, where the virus can survive for some time.

When should I wear a face covering?

In England, you must wear a face covering in the following indoor settings (a list of examples for each is included in the brackets):

  • public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)

  • taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs)

  • transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)

  • shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)

  • shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)

  • auction houses

  • premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink (see exemptions)

  • post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses

  • estate and lettings agents

  • theatres

  • premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)

  • premises providing veterinary services

  • visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)

  • libraries and public reading rooms

  • places of worship

  • funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)

  • community centres, youth centres and social clubs

  • exhibition halls and conference centres

  • public areas in hotels and hostels

  • storage and distribution facilities

  • You are expected to wear a face covering before entering any of these settings and must keep it on until you leave unless there is a reasonable excuse for removing it.

You should also wear a face covering in indoor places not listed here where social distancing may be difficult and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet.

Face coverings are needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are also advised to be worn in care homes.

How can I protect myself from a flu-like virus like coronavirus?

Since the virus is flu-like in nature, you should follow the normal precautions during any winter flu outbreak:

Wash your hands properly and regularly
Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. Lather your hands, including the backs, between your fingers, and under your nails and scrub for at least 20 seconds. Rinse.

Use alcohol hand sanitiser
Use throughout the day – especially during and after being out in public.

Avoid close contact with anyone who is unwell.

Cover your mouth
Always use a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze or wipe your nose. Dispose of tissues promptly in the bin. If no tissue is available then cough into your elbow rather than your hands to prevent spread through you then touching another person or a surface.

Avoid touching your mouth and face.

Regularly clean surfaces
Your computer keyboard, telephone, door handles and other surfaces can all harbour germs so clean them regularly with anti-bac wipes.

Avoid unnecessary close contact
As it’s impossible to know who may be infected, avoid shaking hands, hugging or kissing. Keep at least two metres apart.

How to self-isolate if you're asked to

If there's a chance you could have coronavirus, you are asked to stay away from other people (self-isolate).This means you should:

  • Stay at home

  • Not go to work, school or public places

  • Not use public transport or taxis

  • Ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you

  • Try to avoid visitors to your home – it's OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food on the doorstep

You will need to do this for 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.

Read more coronavirus self-isolation advice.

How Livi can help

With increased demand on GP practices and worries about infection spreading, rest assured that a Livi GP is just a video call away. Our GPs can help with important everyday medical advice, prescriptions and referrals by video.

Seeing a Livi GP by video is especially useful if you need medical advice when self-isolating, or if you wish to limit your exposure to other people. In the event of the further spread of coronavirus, seeing a GP by video rather than visiting a GP surgery in person is a sensible choice for everyone.

Read more on how Livi can help.

Please note: Government advice can change – for the latest NHS updates click here to get information about coronavirus on NHS.UK.

Last updated:
Reviewed by:
Lead GP at Livi Dr Rhianna McClymont
Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi