Covid-19 Coronavirus: Advice // FAQs // Live Tracker // Important Links // Stories

Coronavirus Advice and Support

Read our latest information about the virus, along with guidance for what to do if you think you’re at risk. If you have fever and dry cough, visit the NHS 111 website, do not visit your GP.

If you need support and advice dealing with the symptoms of Covid-19 we can help you and your families.

Page last updated: 1 April 2020

Coronavirus COVID-19, formally known as Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV) is a new respiratory illness that has not previously been seen in humans, and causes pneumonia. What makes Covid-19 so concerning is that it is highly transmissible: one infected person is likely to give the virus to between two and three others.

What is the advice to patients and the public?

What people need to do to limit the spread of coronavirus:

  • Stay at home
  • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home). Do not leave home if you or someone you live with has either:
    • a high temperature
    • a new, continuous cough
  • If you go out, stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times
  • Wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • Do not meet others, even friends or family.

You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

Find out more at Gov.uk.

Getting Tested

The NHS will test individuals when they meet the criteria for a possible case of COVID-19. Most cases will require a single nose and throat swab which will be sent for testing to PHE Colindale or other identified regional laboratories. Samples required are:

  • either a combined nose and throat swab in one collection tube containing universal transport medium
  • or a single swab used for throat then nose
  • or individual nose and throat swabs in separate collection tubes.

If you are worried that you might have Covid-19, click here to take the NHS 111 triage questionnaire.

Common Symptoms

For most people, the symptoms of fever, tiredness and a dry cough will be mild. But 1 in 6 people may become seriously ill.

  • The virus will first infect the throat, causing a dry, sore throat feeling which will develop after 2-7 days of being subjected to the virus. This will last for approximately 3 to 4 days.
  • Mild breathing difficulties will occur at the outset.
  • The virus will blend into the nasal fluid and drip into the trachea and enter the lungs, causing pneumonia. This process can take between 5 to 6 days.
  • With the pneumonia will come high fever and difficulty in breathing. The nasal congestion for COVID-19 is very severe. It is important to seek immediate medical attention if you feel like the congestion is preventing you from breathing.
  • You may also suffer from Fatigue, Gastrointestinal issues, Diarrhea and general aches.
  • Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell.
  • Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.

Key Concerns

The key concerns are how transmissible this new coronavirus is between people. Make sure you follow hygiene measures to stop viruses like coronavirus spreading, such as washing your hands with soap and water often and avoiding unwell people. If you've been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, call NHS 111, do not go to your doctor or hospital.

If you have a runny nose and sputum when you have a cold, it is not likely to be the new type of coronavirus pneumonia, because coronavirus pneumonia is a dry cough without runny nose. However, it may still be worth consulting with our doctors, or calling NHS 111.

Prevention

The most common way of getting infected is by touching things in public, so you must wash your hands frequently. The virus can only live on your hands for 5-10 mins, but a lot can happen in those 5-10 mins (you can rub your eyes or pick your nose unwittingly).

Aside from washing your hands frequently, you can gargle with Betadine Sore Throat Gargle to eliminate or minimise the germs while they are still in your throat (before dripping down to your lungs).

At this current time, the virus is not believed to be heat-resistant and will be killed at a temperature of 26-27 degrees. Drinking more hot water may help to prevent it. It is not a cure, but it is good for the body — Drinking warm water is effective for all viruses.

One of the big debates online at the moment is how effective hand sanistising products are at preventing the spread of the virus. Most hand sanitising products are anti-bacterial, not anti-virus. So our advice is to wash hands regularly using hot water and soap. If you do want to use a hand sanitising gel it must be alochol-based, and make sure it is at least 60-percent alcohol for utmost protection.

Could my symptoms be coronavirus?

Could my symptoms be coronavirus?

The symptoms of coronavirus are: a cough, a high temperature, shortness of breath. But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

Should I book an appointment with a GP?

Should I book an appointment with a GP?

The simple answer is 'yes'. If you are concerned about your health, video-consultation with a doctor is a good way to get answers, and also prevent the potential spread of the virus. Click here to register and book an appointment.

Are there any medicines to prevent or treat coronavirus?

Are there any medicines to prevent or treat coronavirus?

There is currently no specific medicine to prevent or treat coronavirus (COVID-19).

Can I get tested if I think I have coronavirus?

Can I get tested if I think I have coronavirus?

Tests for coronavirus are only done if there's a high chance you could have the illness.

I think I may have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus, what should I do?

I think I may have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus, what should I do?

Health professionals are working to contact anyone who has been in close contact with people who have coronavirus. If you think you've been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus contact the NHS 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do.

Someone at nursery, school, university or work has just returned from an affected area, what should I do?

Someone at nursery, school, university or work has just returned from an affected area, what should I do?

The only people who may need to stay away from school, work or university are: people with confirmed coronavirus, people who have been in close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, people who have been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days.

Does the new coronavirus only affect older people, or can younger people also get it?

Does the new coronavirus only affect older people, or can younger people also get it?

People of all ages can get coronavirus. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) are more likely to become severely ill with the virus.

Do face masks work?

Do face masks work?

Face masks play a very important role in places like hospitals, but there is no vidence of benefits for members of the public.

Do I need to avoid public transport, mass gatherings, festivals, concerts or places with crowds?

Do I need to avoid public transport, mass gatherings, festivals, concerts or places with crowds?

Most people can continue to go to work, school and other public places. You only need to stay away from public places (self-isolate) if advised to by the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or a medical professional.

Is there a vaccine?

Is there a vaccine?

There is currently no vaccine. Simple hygiene measures like washing your hands with soap and water often, and avoiding people who are unwell, can help stop viruses like coronavirus spreading.

Protection measures for everyone

Many countries around the world have seen cases of COVID-19 and several have seen outbreaks. Authorities in China and some other countries have succeeded in slowing or stopping their outbreaks. However, the situation is unpredictable so check regularly for the latest news.

You can reduce your chances of being infected or spreading COVID-19 by taking some simple precautions:

  • Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
  • Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
  • Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Why? When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Why? Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
  • Why? Droplets spread virus. By following good respiratory hygiene you protect the people around you from viruses such as cold, flu and COVID-19.
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance. Follow the directions of your local health authority.
  • Why? National and local authorities will have the most up to date information on the situation in your area. Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also protect you and help prevent spread of viruses and other infections.
  • Keep up to date on the latest COVID-19 hotspots (cities or local areas where COVID-19 is spreading widely). If possible, avoid traveling to places – especially if you are an older person or have diabetes, heart or lung disease.
  • Why? You have a higher chance of catching COVID-19 in one of these areas.

Protection measures for persons who are in or have recently visited (past 14 days) areas where COVID-19 is spreading:

  • Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache, low grade fever (37.3 C or above) and slight runny nose, until you recover. If it is essential for you to have someone bring you supplies or to go out, e.g. to buy food, then wear a mask to avoid infecting other people.
  • Why? Avoiding contact with others and visits to medical facilities will allow these facilities to operate more effectively and help protect you and others from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.
  • If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition. Call in advance and tell your provider of any recent travel or contact with travelers.
  • Why? Calling in advance will allow your health care provider to quickly direct you to the right health facility. This will also help to prevent possible spread of COVID-19 and other viruses.

Risk People

People at higher risk include those who are over 70, regardless of whether they have a medical condition or not, and people under 70 with any of the following underlying health conditions:

  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • problems with your spleen - for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • being seriously overweight (a BMI of 40 or above)
  • those who are pregnant

Further reading

Our response to the Coronavirus outbreak has been designed to support our members, the NHS and the Government.

As an independent, regulated, healthcare provider who cares deeply about our NHS, we're responding to the outbreak to try and ease some pressure from the public health services.

Anxiety levels are understandably high around Covid-19. While we cannot directly diagnose the virus over video-consultation, we can advise and support you with the symptoms while you self-isolate and convalesce. Use the below code when you book your first appointment with one of our GPs for 50% off our normal advertised one-off appointment cost of £44.99.

code: covid19

Please note: Speaking to a Vala GP will not affect or replace your current NHS relationship. We are here to support you when you might not be able to get an appointment to see your regular healthcare professional, or additional support from a qualified professional is required. If you believe you may have Covid-19 please self-isolate and contact NHS 111.

If you are worried about yourself, or a family member, book an appointment to speak to our doctors over video-call. Do not go to your walk-in GP clinic.

All our video appointments are secure and with UK qualified GPs.

We're available 24/7