What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. It is a respiratory illness that, for most people, causes mild to moderate symptoms and they will recover without needing treatment. However, for some people it could cause serious illness, particularly those with underlying health conditions.
What are the mild COVID-19 symptoms?
Many people who have COVID-19 will be asymptomatic, meaning they have no symptoms at all. Those who experience mild symptoms are likely to have a fever, dry cough, lose their sense of taste or smell and feel tired.
Less common symptoms include aches and pains, blocked nose, sore throat and diarrhoea.
What are the severe COVID-19 symptoms?
Unfortunately, some people will experience severe symptoms of COVID-19. These usually include difficulty breathing, chest pain or pressure. In some instances, COVID-19 can be a cause of death.
How does COVID-19 spread and how is it caught?
COVID-19 is primarily spread by breathing in droplets of saliva or nasal discharge from an infected person when they cough or sneeze or by touching infected surfaces and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
How can I prevent catching COVID-19?
Keeping your hands clean and regularly washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or cleaning them with a 70% alcohol-based sanitiser, is the best way of preventing the spread of the disease. You should also practice social distancing when you’re outside and self-isolate if you have symptoms. For more guidance please visit the Government’s dedicated COVID-19 advice pages.
How is COVID-19 treated?
If you have covid-19 and are self-isolating you can ease your symptoms by getting lots of rest, drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration and taking paracetamol to lower your temperature. Find out more about treating COVID-19 at home.
If your symptoms worsen it’s important you seek medical advice. If necessary, you may be admitted to hospital to help you manage your condition. There is no specific treatment available for COVID-19, however the care you receive will help relieve symptoms and support your body in its fight against the virus.
Why is testing for COVID-19 important?
Because COVID-19 can cause various symptoms or even no symptoms at all, it's difficult to diagnose without testing. Testing can also help the government understand how far the virus has spread among the population. This can help inform the NHS and government's decisions on measures such as lockdown and social distancing.
How to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic
It’s important to look after yourself both physically and mentally. For guidance on how to reduce your risk of catching the illness and looking after yourself if you or someone in your household displays symptoms, you can either visit our COVID-19 advice pages, or the government guidance pages.
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, especially when most of us are unable to see our friends and family on a regular basis because of lockdown or social distancing measures. We’ve provided some helpful advice on coping with stress in the pandemic or you can visit the NHS’ Every Mind Matters website for practical advice on looking after your mental health.