COVID-19 and your health
One of the things we can all do to help the NHS and Public Health England is to listen to their advice and follow national guidance. The advice they give is important.
The NHS will be making contact with up to 1.4 million people who are most vulnerable to this disease and who should isolate for 12 weeks. A new local support system will make sure those in this category who are at home and without a support network of friends and family will receive basic groceries. Community pharmacies will support those who need help getting their medicines delivered.
For every other vulnerable person the current guidance is below.
Current Guidance from Public Health England
We are advising those who are at increased risk of severe illness from Coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.
This group includes those who are:
- aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition (ie: anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds)
- those who are pregnant
Note: there are some clinical conditions which put people at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. If you are in this category, next week the NHS in England will directly contact you with advice on more stringent measures you should take in order to keep yourself and other safe. For now, you should rigorously follow the social distancing advice in full, outlined below.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of Coronavirus (COVID-19). People must stay at home except for shopping for basic necessities, daily exercise, any medical need and travelling to and from essential work.
Shops selling non-essential goods are being told to shut, and gatherings in public of more than two people who do not live together are to be prohibited. If people do not follow the rules police will have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings.
People in the UK will only be allowed to leave their home for the following purposes:
- Shopping for basic necessities, as infrequently as possible
- One form of exercise a day – for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
- Any medical need, to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home
To ensure compliance with the instruction to stay at home, the government will:
- Close all shops selling non-essential goods, including clothing and electronic stores and other premises including libraries, playgrounds and outdoor gyms, and places of worship
- Stop all gatherings of more than two people in public – excluding people you live with
- Stop all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies, but excluding funerals
- Parks will remain open for exercise, but gatherings will be dispersed.
Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic.
For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, we strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can, and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.
This advice is likely to be in place for at least three weeks.
What to do if you have symptoms
The latest advice from Public Health England is to stay at home for seven days if you have either:
- a high temperature
- a new continuous cough
This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you're staying at home. PHE will not be testing people who are self-isolating with mild symptoms.
Prevent Coronavirus spreading
There are some things you can do to help stop viruses spreading:
- cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze;
- put used tissues in the bin straight away;
- wash your hands often with soap and water, or hand sanitiser gel;
- try and avoid close contact with people who are unwell;
- do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands aren't clean
For 10 tips to help if you are worried about Coronavirus please visit the NHS website.
If you think you may have symptoms of the virus, use the online NHS 111 Coronavirus service or call 111. Do not visit your GP, pharmacy or hospital.