What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a virus, which is a type of illness.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The main symptoms of coronavirus are a cough, a high temperature and loss of taste or smell.

What to do if you think you have coronavirus

If you have one, some, or all of the symptoms of coronavirus you should try to find out if have got it by checking your symptoms and getting a test.

Do not go to your doctors. Instead, stay home and organise a test. You can get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus.

You may be told to stay at home and not be near other people for several days. This is called self-isolating.

NHS Test and Trace

It's a legal requirement to self-isolate if you are told to by NHS Test and Trace. 

When to self-isolate

  • If you've tested positive for COVID-19
  • If you are told to by NHS Test and Trace
  • If someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
  • If you or someone you live with has a high temperature or a cough you should stay at home and arrange to have a PCR test. Click here to get a free NHS test to check if you have coronavirus.

You will need to stay at home for 10 days.

How to help stop coronavirus spreading

You can help to stop the spread of coronavirus by:

  • washing your hands carefully and regularly
  • wearing a face covering will no longer be required by law, but the government recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.


Moving image of person washing their hands with soap and water.

How to wash your hands thoroughly

Doctors and nurses have told us that when washing your hands you should follow these steps:

  1. Wet your hands under warm running water
  2. Apply a small amount of soap
  3. Rub your hands together and make sure that the soap and water cover all over your hands
  4. Carefully wash your palms, the backs of your hands, your fingertips, thumbs, your wrists and nails
  5. Rinse your hands under running water
  6. Dry your hands thoroughly.
PDF easy read guide to handwashing

Find out more

There is an online coronavirus service that tells you about the virus and if you need medical help.

Visit the NHS 111 website to find out more.

Talk to us

We know this is a difficult and unusual time. We're here to help.

If you need information or advice you can contact our helpline or if you can, have a chat on our online community

Contact the helpline Go to the online community