What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is disease caused by a coronavirus, a common virus that can cause what doctors call a respiratory tract infection. It can affect your upper respiratory tract (sinuses, nose, and throat) or lower respiratory tract (windpipe and lungs). Most coronaviruses aren’t dangerous.
In early 2020, following a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization identified a new type of coronavirus. Officials named this new virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This is the virus that causes COVID-19.
The outbreak quickly spread around the world. It spreads the same way other coronaviruses do, through person-to-person contact. Infections range from mild to serious.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
Early symptoms are much like those of the common cold. But the virus can lead to pneumonia, respiratory failure and, in some cases, septic shock. If you’re exposed and infected, symptoms can show up in as few as 2 days or as many as 14. It varies from person to person.
What should I do if I have symptoms?
If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild, do not leave your home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. Do not go to a doctor’s surgery or hospital.
You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
How do I protect myself?
- Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
- Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean