what we know about the virus and the disease it causes
how we have planned for an infectious disease outbreak, such as the current coronavirus outbreak
the actions we have taken so far in response to the current coronavirus outbreak
what we are planning to do next, depending upon the course the current coronavirus outbreak takes
the role the public can play in supporting this response, now and in the future
Current advice remains in place: No school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless advised to do so by Public Health England.
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
new continuous cough and/or
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection
New guidance to stay at home for 14 days if someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 is the focus of the next stage of a public awareness campaign launched by Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock today.
The new guidance will set out that individuals will still be asked to self-isolate for 7 days from the onset of COVID-19 symptoms but any individuals in the household will now be asked to self-isolate for 14 days from that moment as well.
If other members of your household develop symptoms, however mild, at any time during the 14 days, they must not leave the home for 7 days from when symptoms started.
The new phase of the campaign will build on the existing TV, radio, online, digital and billboard adverts currently visible all over the country. These reinforce the importance of washing your hands more often and for 20 seconds, and ask people to self-isolate for 7 days if they develop a high temperature or a new continuous cough, however mild.
Government has taken the further measure of asking whole households to isolate because it is likely that people living with others will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
The Prime Minister also today set out a number of social distancing measures to reduce the risk of infection from the spread of coronavirus. For those who remain well, are under 70 or do not have an underlying health condition, they are advised to limit their social contact where possible, including using less public transport, working at home and considering not going to pubs, restaurants, theatres and bars.
For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, they are strongly advised against these activities and to significantly limit face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible.
The government’s public awareness campaign offers clear, practical advice so people can play their part in preventing and slowing the spread of the virus.
The most important thing individuals can do to protect themselves remains washing their hands more often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water. Make sure you cough or sneeze into a tissue, put it in a bin and wash your hands.
The awareness campaign also reiterates the importance of seeking help online by visiting NHS.UK/coronavirus to check your symptoms and follow the medical advice, rather than visiting your GP. It also urges people with any symptoms to avoid contact with older and more vulnerable people.
Only if symptoms become worse should people use the NHS 111 service. To ensure the phone service is readily available to those who need it, where possible people should use the 111 website rather than calling.
Self-isolation for 7 days is very important to help control spread of the virus. You can return to normal after 7 days if you are well and free of fever because most people will not be likely to transmit (spread) the virus after 7 days from the start of symptoms.
14 days of self-isolation still applies to those who have been exposed to a confirmed case/met travel criteria but not shown symptoms. This is because 14 days is the incubation period, ie the maximum time it takes for symptoms to show if you have been infected.
The importance of hygiene
Personal hygiene is the most important way we can tackle COVID-19, especially washing hands more; and the catch it, bin it, kill it strategy for those with coughs and sneezes.
Wash your hands more often for 20 seconds with soap and hot water
In addition to handwashing before eating, and after coughing and sneezing, both children and staff should also wash hands after using toilets and travelling on public transport.