What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new virus. A virus is a type of illness.

There are now a number of people in the UK who have got it and it is spread easily.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

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

Some people with the virus will also find it harder to breathe.

Most people who have the virus will get better without needing any treatment.

But some people may become very unwell and need to go to hospital.

What to do if you think you have coronavirus

The symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature, a cough that doesn’t go away and a loss of taste and smell.

If you have one, some or all of these symptoms, you might have coronavirus, and you should try to find out if you do.

Do not go to your doctors if you think you have coronavirus.

Contact NHS 111 straight away. This will tell you what you need to do next.

You can do this online by visiting the NHS 111 online service.

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

When to self-isolate

If you or someone you live with has a high temperature or a cough you should stay at home completely - do not even go out to the shops or for exercise.

The government have said that if you live with friends and/or family you need to stay at home for 14 days (which is the same as 2 weeks).

If you live on your own, you still need to self-isolate, but you will only need to do this for 7 days (which is the same as 1 week).

How to help stop coronavirus spreading

To help stop the spread of coronavirus the government have said that everyone must stay at home as much as possible.

You can leave home to:

  • shop for essentials
  • exercise
  • get medical treatment.

You should only be travelling to work if you really have to (most shops and businesses are still closed).

As well as this, you can help to stop the spread of coronavirus by:

  • covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
  • putting any tissues you use in a bin
  • coughing or sneezing into your sleeve instead of your hand, if you don't have a tissue
  • trying not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.

It is really important that you wash your hands carefully and regularly. You should do this after coughing or sneezing and before eating any food. You should always wash your hands when you get home or into work.

When you go out, you must follow social distancing rules. This means keeping 2 metres apart from people who are not from your household.

Face coverings

We've created the following easy read guides and social stories to help understand and explain face coverings:

The government's instructions about face coverings

Why people are wearing face coverings when they go out 

Wearing a face covering when you go out

Easy read guide

We've created an easy read guide to coronavirus (COVID-19) for you.

Take a look
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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.

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