Saturday 30th May 2020
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Latest government guidance and health advice

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Stay alert, control the virus, save lives 
The government has urged the public to take a number of steps to protect themselves and the wider population from the coronavirus.

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Government guidance

Government guidance

The latest government guidance* says that you must:
  • stay at home as much as possible, except for a limited set of reasons
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly
  • self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms
Please make sure you read and follow the government’s detailed guidance, which sets out the limited reasons for which you can leave your home. You should not leave your home for any other reason.
If you do need to leave your home for any of the permitted reasons, you should follow the guidelines on staying safe outside your home. Most importantly, this includes the key advice that you should stay two metres apart from anyone outside of your household and wash your hands regularly.
You can meet one other person from outside your household if you are outdoors. There are no limits on gatherings in the park with members of your household.
It is still not permitted to leave your house to visit friends and family in their home or attend public gatherings of more than 2 people from different households.
You should travel to work, including to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot work from home and your workplace is open.
A lot of these measures are underpinned by law so they must be followed. For more information see the government’s FAQs page on what you should and should not do during the coronavirus outbreak.
Please also see our business pages for guidance for safety in the work place.
 The above guidance only applies to those people who are fit and healthy. If you have certain health conditions you should follow the separate guidance below.

Clinically vulnerable groups

If you have certain health conditions you are considered 'clinically vulnerable', meaning you are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
You're advised to stay at home as much as possible and, if you do go out, take particular care to minimise contact with others outside your household.

Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds): nder 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
    • chronic (long-term) mild to moderate 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), or cerebral palsy
    • diabetes
    • a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions, treatments like chemotherapy, or medicines such as steroid tablets
    • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
    • pregnant women

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Clinically extremely vulnerable groups

People who are clinically extremely vulnerable should have received a letter telling them they’re in this group or been told by their GP.
People in this group are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact with anyone else. This is called ‘shielding’.
Shielding means:
  • do not leave your house.
  • do not attend any gatherings - this includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces, for example, family homes, weddings and religious services
  • strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) - these symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
The government has shared guidance for those that are shielding.

Guidance for people with symptoms of coronavirus

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature
  • loss of taste or smell

How long should I stay at home if I have symptoms?

If you live alone
  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus, however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
  • If you do not have a high temperature after 7 days, you do not need to continue to self-isolate.
  • If you still have a high temperature after 7 days, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal.
  • You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 7 days, as a cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
If you live with other people
  • If you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
  • For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period.
  • If you live with anyone who is over 70, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
  • If you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible.
You can find the latest information and advice about self isolation on the Public Health Matters blog. This will help to protect others in your community while you're infectious.

How to treat coronavirus symptoms at home

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

Find out how to treat coronavirus at home

Can I be tested for coronavirus?

Anyone over 5 years old and have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, you can ask for a test through the NHS website.

Book a test

If you’re an essential worker you can apply for priority testing . You can also get tested through this route if you have symptoms of coronavirus and live with an essential worker.
Antibody tests will be available shortly to NHS and care staff, eligible patients and care residents in England to see if they have had coronavirus as part of a new national antibody testing programme.
You can also get tested if you’re a social care worker or resident in a care home whether you have symptoms or not.
For more information see the government guidance on coronavirus testing.

Tracing service

The government is due to launch a tracing service in England soon as part of its Test and Trace strategy as we move towards step 2 of the recovery plan.
The government has indicated that local authorities will play a significant role in this process. We are still awaiting further guidelines on what this new system entails and how it will work. We will update more on this as guidance comes through.

How can you reduce your chances of getting coronavirus?

  • Wash your hands often (see more below)
  • Use a tissue for coughs
  • Avoid touching your face
Corona symptoms

Handwashing guidance

Washing your hands is still the most important thing we can do to stop the spread of coronavirus. Please follow Public Health England advice to:
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • 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 straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
For the safest and most thorough handwashing method, watch this NHS video.

Face coverings

The government has updated its guidance asking people to consider wearing face coverings in places where:
  • it is hard to maintain social distancing measures
  • you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example on public transport or in some shops. They do not need to be worn:
  • outdoors
  • while exercising
  • in schools
  • in workplaces such as offices and retail
  • by those who may find them difficult to wear, such as children under two or primary aged children who cannot use them without assistance
  • by or those who may have problems breathing while wearing a face covering such as those suffering with Asthma. See Asthma UK advice.
You can make face coverings at home, using scarves or other textile items that many will already own.

Where to get medical help

You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home. They won't be testing people who are self-isolating with mild symptoms. 
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after seven days
Only call NHS 111 if you cannot get help online.
The latest online health advice from the NHS can be found using the button below. This includes:
  • stay at home advice including how long to stay at home
  • how to avoid catching and spreading coronavirus
  • travel advice
  • treatment for coronavirus

Coronavirus health checker tool

The NHS is asking people with potential coronavirus symptoms to:
  • complete a new coronavirus status checker
  • answer a short series of questions that will tell the NHS about their experience
This checker will help the NHS coordinate its response and build up additional data on the COVID-19 outbreak.
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