Coronavirus NHS Information

Get the latest NHS information and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19), a new illness that affects your lungs and airways.
 
Updated 12th June

Check if you or your child has coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are usually mild, but some people can become very unwell.

 

Main symptoms

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

Urgent advice: Use the 111 online coronavirus service if you have any of:

  • high temperature
  • new, continuous cough
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

111 will tell you what to do and help you get a test if you need one.

Call 111 if you cannot get help online. Do not go to places like a GP surgery, hospital or pharmacy.

Babies and children

Call 111 if you're worried about a baby or child under 5.

If your child seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call 999.

Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.

Children can get coronavirus (COVID-19), but they seem to get it less often than adults and it's usually less serious.

What to do if your child has symptoms of coronavirus

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot, for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – this means they cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Use the 111 online coronavirus service if your child is 5 or over. Call 111 if they're under 5.

What to do if your child seems very unwell

Children and babies will still get illnesses that can make them very unwell quickly. It's important to get medical help if you need it.

Urgent advice: Call 111 or your GP surgery if your child:

  • is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 38C or higher, or you think they have a fever
  • is 3 to 6 months old and has a temperature of 39C or higher, or you think they have a fever
  • has other signs of illness, such as a rash, as well as a high temperature (fever)
  • has a high temperature that's lasted for 5 days or more
  • does not want to eat, or is not their usual self and you're worried
  • has a high temperature that does not come down with paracetamol
  • is dehydrated – for example, nappies are not very wet, sunken eyes, and no tears when they're crying

Immediate action required: Call 999 if your child:

  • has a stiff neck
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press a glass against it (use the "glass test" from Meningitis Now)
  • is bothered by light
  • has a seizure or fit for the first time (they cannot stop shaking)
  • has unusually cold hands and feet
  • has pale, blotchy, blue or grey skin
  • has a weak, high-pitched cry that's not like their usual cry
  • is drowsy and hard to wake
  • is extremely agitated (does not stop crying) or is confused
  • finds it hard to breathe and sucks their stomach in under their ribs
  • has a soft spot on their head that curves outwards
  • is not responding like they usually do, or not interested in feeding or usual activities

Staying at home if you have symptoms (self-isolation)

If your symptoms are mild you must not to leave your home. This is called self-isolation.

  • Anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for 7 days from when their symptoms started.
  • Anyone you live with (or anyone in your support bubble) who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days from when the first person started having symptoms.

What is a support bubble? 

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from 1 other household.

Find out more about meeting people from outside your household on GOV.UK.

When to self-isolate and what to do

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is when you stay at home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19).

This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.

Self-isolation is different to:

When to self-isolate

Self-isolate if:

  • you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • you're waiting for a coronavirus test result
  • you've tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
  • you live with someone who has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is where people who live alone (or just with their children) meet people from 1 other household.

Find out more about meeting with people outside your household on GOV.UK.

There is separate advice if you're told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with a person with coronavirus.

For information about self-isolating when you travel or return to the UK, see GOV.UK: how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK.

Important

If you have coronavirus symptoms, get advice from the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

How to self-isolate

You must not leave your home if you're self-isolating.

Don't

  • do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can

  • do not go on public transport or use taxis

  • do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home

  • do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care

  • do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one

Ask for a test if you have symptoms

Ask for a coronavirus test if you have symptoms.

Getting tested will help you find out if you and anyone you live with can stop self-isolating.

Find out about asking for a test to check if you have coronavirus.

Tell people you've been in close contact with that you have symptoms

You may want to tell people you've been in close contact with in the past 48 hours that you might have coronavirus.

What does close contact mean?

Examples of close contact include:

  • close face to face contact (under 1 metre) for any length of time – including talking to them or coughing on them
  • being within 1 to 2 metres of each other for more than 15 minutes – including travelling in a small vehicle
  • spending lots of time in your home, such as cleaning it

They do not need to self-isolate unless they're contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service. But they should take extra care to follow social distancing advice, including washing their hands often.

If they get any coronavirus symptoms, they should get advice from the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

How long to self-isolate

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you'll usually need to self-isolate for at least 7 days.

If you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days.

If someone in your support bubble has symptoms, you'll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days.

Read more about how long to self-isolate.

Get an isolation note for your employer if you're unable to work

If you need to self-isolate, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to be off work.

You do not need to get a note from a GP.

Read more about the guidance and support for employees during coronavirus on GOV.UK.

How long to self-isolate

Follow this advice if:

  • you have any symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • you're waiting for a coronavirus test result
  • you've tested positive (you have coronavirus)
  • you live with someone who has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has tested positive

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from 1 other household.

Find out more about meeting people from outside your household on GOV.UK.

There is separate advice if you're told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with a person with coronavirus.

If you have symptoms of coronavirus

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, self-isolate for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started.

You can stop self-isolating after 7 days if either:

  • your symptoms have gone
  • you just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste – these symptoms can last for weeks after the infection has gone

Keep self-isolating if you still have any of these symptoms after 7 days:

  • a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • a runny nose or sneezing
  • feeling or being sick
  • diarrhoea
  • loss of appetite

Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone.

If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.

Information:

You may be able to stop self-isolating earlier than 7 days if you get a negative test result (you do not have coronavirus).

Find out what your coronavirus test result means.

If you do not have symptoms of coronavirus

Self-isolate for 14 days if:

  • you live with someone who has symptoms, has tested positive or is waiting for a test result
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms, has tested positive or is waiting for a test result

If you live with them, the 14 days starts from when the first person in your home started having symptoms.

If they are in your support bubble, the 14 days starts from the last time you saw the person who has symptoms.

This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.

You can stop self-isolating after 14 days if you do not get any symptoms.

If you get symptoms of coronavirus, self-isolate for at least 7 days from when they started and ask for a coronavirus test. This might mean you're self-isolating for longer than 14 days.

Information:

You may be able to stop earlier than 14 days if everyone with symptoms gets a negative test result.

Find out what your coronavirus test result means.

What to do after you stop self-isolating

You can leave your home when you stop self-isolating.

Follow the general advice about social distancing, such as staying at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people.

If you're at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable), follow the advice for people at high risk from coronavirus.

Information:

If you're a health or care worker, check with your employer before going back to work.

How to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with

If you are self-isolating because of coronavirus, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of spreading any infection to the people you live with.

Try to stay away from people you live with

If you have symptoms, you should stay away from other people you live with as much as possible.

If you can:

  • stay on your own in one room as much as possible and keep the door closed
  • avoid using shared spaces (such as the kitchen) at the same time as other people – eat your meals in your room
  • use a separate bathroom - otherwise, use the bathroom after everyone else and clean it each time you use it, for example, by wiping the surfaces you've touched

How to reduce the spread of infection in your home

Do

  • wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds

  • 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

  • clean objects and surfaces you touch often (such as door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products

  • consider wearing a face covering when in shared spaces

  • keep windows open in the room you're staying in and shared spaces as much as possible

Don't

  • do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels

If you live with someone at higher risk from coronavirus

It's especially important to try to avoid spreading the infection to anyone who's at higher risk from coronavirus (such as people who are 70 or over, pregnant or have a weakened immune system).

If you live with someone at higher risk, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family while you're self-isolating.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from each other. If possible, try not to share a bed.

More information about self-isolation

Read the full guidance about self-isolation on GOV.UK.

How to treat coronavirus symptoms at home

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19), but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover.

If you're concerned about your symptoms and need medical advice, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

Treating a high temperature

If you have a high temperature, it can help to:

  • get lots of rest
  • drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable

Is it safe to take ibuprofen if I have symptoms of coronavirus?

There have been some news reports of anti-inflammatory painkillers, such as ibuprofen, making coronavirus worse.

The Commission on Human Medicines has now confirmed there is no clear evidence that using ibuprofen to treat symptoms such as a high temperature makes coronavirus worse.

You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat symptoms of coronavirus. Try paracetamol first if you can, as it has fewer side effects than ibuprofen and is the safer choice for most people.

Always follow the instructions that come with your medicine.

Treating a cough

If you have a cough, it's best to avoid lying on your back. Lie on your side or sit upright instead.

To help ease a cough, try having a teaspoon of honey. But do not give honey to babies under 12 months.

If this does not help, you could contact a pharmacist for advice about cough treatments.

Do not go to a pharmacy in person. If you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms, you must all stay at home.

Try calling or contacting the pharmacy online instead.

Things to try if you're feeling breathless

If you're feeling breathless, it can help to keep your room cool.

Try turning the heating down or opening a window. Do not use a fan as it may spread the virus.

You could also try:

  • breathing slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth, with your lips together like you're gently blowing out a candle
  • sitting upright in a chair
  • relaxing your shoulders, so you're not hunched
  • leaning forward slightly – support yourself by putting your hands on your knees or on something stable like a chair

Try not to panic if you're feeling breathless. This can make it worse.

Important

Feeling breathless can be a sign of a more serious coronavirus infection.

If you feel breathless and it's getting worse, get medical advice from the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

What to do if coronavirus symptoms get worse

It's important to get medical help if your symptoms get worse.

Urgent advice: Use the 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • you feel breathless and it's getting worse
  • your symptoms get worse and you're not sure what to do

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

Babies and children

Call 111 if you're worried about a baby or child.

If they seem very unwell, are getting worse, or you think there's something seriously wrong, call 999.

Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.

Get more advice about coronavirus in children.

Immediate action required: Call 999 for an ambulance if you or someone you care for:

  • are struggling to breathe
  • are coughing up blood
  • have blue lips or a blue face
  • feel cold and sweaty, with pale or blotchy skin
  • have a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it
  • collapse or faint
  • become confused or very drowsy
  • have stopped peeing or are peeing much less than usual

Tell the operator you might have coronavirus symptoms.

What to do if you get coronavirus symptoms again

You must stay at home (self-isolate) again and ask for a test if you get symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) more than once.

The symptoms are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

You must also self-isolate again if someone you live with (or someone in your support bubble) gets symptoms again.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from 1 other household.

Find out more about meeting people from outside your household on GOV.UK.

You must self-isolate again even if you've had a positive test result for coronavirus before. You probably have some immunity to coronavirus but it's not clear how long it will last.

You must not leave your home if you're self-isolating.

  • Anyone with symptoms must self-isolate for at least 7 days from when their symptoms started.
  • Anyone who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days from when the first person started having symptoms. This is because it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear.

Read more about when to self-isolate and what to do.

Testing and tracing for coronavirus

Information about testing for coronavirus and what to do if you're contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service.

Ask for a test to check if you have coronavirus

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can ask for a test to check if you have the virus. This is called an antigen test.

There is another type of test (antibody test) that checks if you've already had the virus. This test is not widely available yet. You can find out about antibody testing on GOV.UK.

If you need medical advice about your symptoms:

Who can ask for a test

You can ask for a test:

  • for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
  • for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms

This service is for people in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In England and Wales, you can ask for a test for a child who lives with you, whatever their age. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can only get a test for your child if they are aged 5 or over.

If you're asking for a test for someone else, and the person is aged 13 or over, check they're happy for you to ask for a test for them.

Please help the NHS by only asking for tests for people who have coronavirus symptoms now.

When to ask for a test

You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

Important

Do not wait. Ask for the test as soon as you have symptoms.

What the test involves

The test usually involves taking a swab of the inside of your nose and the back of your throat, using a long cotton bud.

You can do the swab yourself (if you are aged 12 or over) or someone can do it for you. Children aged 11 or under cannot do the swab themselves. Their parent or guardian will have to swab test them.

Will I get a test?

There is very high demand for tests at the moment.

People in hospital and essential workers, including NHS and social care staff, are getting priority.

Even if you are successful in requesting a test, we cannot guarantee you will get one. It depends on how many tests are available each day in different parts of the country.

How do I ask for a test?

You can ask for a test online.

We'll ask you:

  • how you want to get the test – you may be able to choose between driving to a regional testing site or getting a home test kit
  • for details such as your name, mobile phone number and address

Apply for a coronavirus test on GOV.UK if you:

  • are an essential worker, including NHS or social care staff
  • are asking for tests for the residents and staff of your care home
  • have a verification code from your employer​

Help with asking for a test

If you're having problems getting a test, see answers to common questions about asking for a coronavirus test.

What your coronavirus test result means

If you've had a test to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19), there are 3 types of result you can get:

  • negative
  • positive
  • unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive

Important

You and anyone you live with must stay at home (self-isolate) until you get your result.

Anyone in your support bubble must also self-isolate until you get your result.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is where people who live alone (or just with their children) meet people from 1 other household.

Find out more about meeting with people outside your household on GOV.UK.

Negative test result

A negative result means you did not have coronavirus when the test was done.

You can stop self-isolating if you test negative, as long as:

  • everyone you live with who has coronavirus symptoms also tests negative – keep self-isolating if someone in your home tests positive, or has symptoms and has not been tested
  • everyone in your support bubble who has coronavirus symptoms also tests negative – keep self-isolating if someone in your support bubble tests positive, or has symptoms and has not been tested
  • you feel well – if you still feel unwell, you may have a different illness that could spread to other people, so stay at home until you’re feeling better

If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.

The advice is different if you've been told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with someone who has coronavirus.

You may still need to self-isolate if you test negative.

What to do when you stop self-isolating

You can leave your home when you stop self-isolating.

Follow the general advice about social distancing, such as staying at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people.

If you're at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable), follow the advice for people at high risk from coronavirus.

If you're a health or care worker, check with your employer before going back to work.

You could still get coronavirus after testing negative. Read about what to do if you get symptoms of coronavirus again.

Positive test result

A positive result means you had coronavirus when the test was done.

If you get a positive result, you and anyone you live with must keep self-isolating.

Everyone in your support bubble must also must keep self-isolating.

If you have symptoms, self-isolate for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started. Anyone who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days.

Read more about how long to self-isolate.

In England, you'll get an email, text or call from the NHS Test and Trace service if you test positive. You'll be asked where you've been recently and who you've been in close contact with.

This will help the NHS contact anyone who may have caught the virus from you.

Find out about being contacted by NHS Test and Trace after testing positive for coronavirus.

Unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive test result

An unclear, void, borderline or inconclusive result means it's not possible to say for certain if you had coronavirus when the test was done.

If this happens, you may be advised to ask for another coronavirus test. Do this as soon as possible, as the test is most accurate within a few days of your symptoms starting.

If you're not able to have another test, you and anyone you live with must keep self-isolating.

Everyone in your support bubble must also must keep self-isolating.

If you have symptoms, self-isolate for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started. Anyone who does not have symptoms must self-isolate for 14 days.

Read more about how long to self-isolate.

Urgent advice: If you need medical advice about your symptoms, go to:

Call 999 if you feel very unwell or think there's something seriously wrong.

NHS Test and Trace: if you're contacted after testing positive for coronavirus

In England, you’ll be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

You'll be asked where you've been recently and who you've been in close contact with.

This will help the NHS contact anyone who may have caught the virus from you.

How you'll be contacted

You'll be contacted by email, text or phone.

Text messages will come from NHStracing. Calls will come from 0300 0135000.

Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian's permission to continue the call.

What you'll be asked to do

You'll be asked to sign in to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website at https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.

On the contact tracing website, you'll be asked for information including:

  • your name, date of birth and postcode
  • if you live with other people
  • any places you've been recently, such as a workplace or school
  • names and contact details of any people you were in close contact with in the 48 hours before your symptoms started (if you know these details)

If you cannot use the contact tracing website, you'll be asked for this information over the phone.

Important

The NHS Test and Trace service will not:

  • ask for bank details or payments
  • ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

How your information will be used

All information you provide to the NHS Test and Trace service is confidential.

No one who is contacted will be told your identity.

Anyone you've been in close contact with will be told to stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days. This is because it can take up to 14 days for coronavirus symptoms to appear.

NHS Test and Trace: if you've been in contact with a person who has coronavirus

Follow this advice if you're told by the NHS Test and Trace service that you've been in contact with a person who has coronavirus (COVID-19).

Stay at home for 14 days

If you're told you've been in contact with a person who has coronavirus:

  • stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days from the day you were last in contact with the person – it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear
  • do not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask friends and family to drop it off at your home
  • do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for essential care
  • try to avoid contact with anyone you live with as much as possible
  • people you live with do not need to self-isolate if you do not have symptoms
  • people in your support bubble do not need to self-isolate if you do not have symptoms

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is where someone who lives alone (or just with their children) can meet people from 1 other household.

Find out more about meeting people from outside your household on GOV.UK.

If you live with someone at higher risk from coronavirus, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days.

If you have to stay in the same home together, read about how to avoid spreading coronavirus to people you live with.

If you get symptoms of coronavirus

If you get symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste):

  • use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do and get a coronavirus test – call 111 if you cannot get help online
  • anyone you live with must self-isolate until you’ve been tested and received your result
  • anyone in your support bubble must self-isolate until you’ve been tested and received your result

What to do when you get your test result

If you test negative (you do not have coronavirus):

  • keep self-isolating for 14 days from when you were last in contact with the person who has coronavirus – as you could get symptoms after being tested
  • anyone you live with can stop self-isolating if they do not have symptoms
  • anyone in your support bubble can stop self-isolating if they do not have symptoms

If you test positive (you have coronavirus):

  • self-isolate for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started – even if it means you're self-isolating for longer than 14 days
  • anyone you live with must self-isolate for 14 days from when your symptoms started
  • anyone in your support bubble must self-isolate for 14 days from when your symptoms started

Read more about when to self isolate and what to do.

If you do not get symptoms of coronavirus

If you do not have any symptoms of coronavirus:

  • you can stop self-isolating after 14 days
  • you do not need to have a test

How NHS Test and Trace will contact you

You'll be contacted by email, text or phone.

Text messages will come from NHStracing. Calls will come from 0300 0135000.

Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian's permission to continue the call.

You'll be asked to sign in to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website at https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.

If you cannot use the contact tracing website, they will call you.

Important

The NHS Test and Trace service will not:

  • ask for bank details or payments
  • ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

More about NHS Test and Trace

GOV.UK: NHS Test and Trace – how it works