Latest guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19)

How to check central government and NHS advice, plus answers to common questions about COVID-19.

Last updated: 1 July 2020 (reviewed daily)

Essential information

You can check gov.uk/coronavirus for the latest guidance on COVID-19 from central government.

Visit the NHS website for medical information about coronavirus.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Find answers to common questions about COVID-19, including links to national guidance.

A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.

Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

Find out how to protect yourself or check if you need medical help on the NHS website.

If you have any of these symptoms:

  • 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

Then you should:

  1. Start isolating (you for 7 days, members of your household for 14 days)
  2. Book a test (Visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119)

Do not go to a GP surgery or hospital.

Yes - you should ask for a test:

  • for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now
  • for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms

This service is for people in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
In England, you can ask for a test for a child who lives with you, whatever their age.

If you have any of these symptoms:

  • 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

Then you should:

  1. Start isolating (you for 7 days, members of your household for 14 days)
  2. Book a test (Visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119)

See our COVID-19 testing in Suffolk page for more detailed information.

As a community we all have a role to play in further prevention.

The best way you can protect yourself and others is to continue to practice good hygiene:

  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • wash your hands regularly with warm soapy water for 20 seconds
  • do not touch your face, unless you have just washed your hands
  • if you cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue and then bin the tissue and wash your hands.

The most simple and effective way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus is making sure you wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or a hand sanitiser if you are out and about.

It’s particularly important to wash your hands once you get home or arrive at work or before you prepare or eat food.

NHS guide on the best way to wash your hands


You should stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • or a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

If your symptoms persist past 7 days you should contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. 

Read advice about staying at home on the NHS website.

Anyone travelling by bus, train, ferry or plane in England must now wear a face covering to help reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission. If you do not wear a face covering you will be breaking the law and could be fined £100, or £50 if you pay the fine within 14 days.

Wearing face coverings on public transport

GOV.UK has more guidance about safe travel.

You should also wear a face covering in shops and other enclosed spaces where it is not possible to stay two metres apart from other people.

A face covering is a covering of any type which covers your nose and mouth. Here is guidance on how to wear and make a face covering.

We have prepared translated and Easy Read guidance about wearing a face covering.

To slow the spread of the virus, we should all avoid non-essential travel.

This means:

  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible.
  • Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance on the gov.uk website, for more information.
  • Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
  • From 15 June 2020, face coverings are required while using public transport in England.

There are some countries and areas where there's a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus. Read the travel advice on GOV.UK.

You must 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

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.

Read more about how long to self-isolate.

Self-isolating means:

  • 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

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.

Read more from the NHS about how long to self-isolate.

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

Do not go to your GP or to hospital.

When you should call NHS 111

If you have mild symptoms, you do not need to call NHS 111 to tell them you are staying at home.

If your symptoms persist past 7 days you should contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

Read the latest stay at home guidance on GOV.UK.

 

As part of the government's plans to ease lockdown, schools and early years settings will be opening to more pupils from 1 June 2020.

Please visit our Parent guidance about schools during COVID-19 pandemic page for comprehensive details and answers to your questions.

We realise that the decision whether to send children and young people back to school at this time will not be an easy one to make. Government guidance has made it clear that it is not compulsory for parents to send their children to school at this time and there will be no penalties for families who choose to keep children at home.

It is very important that you stay at home whilst you have coronavirus. This will help to protect your friends, colleagues and the wider community and will help control the spread of the virus.

We realise that staying at home may be difficult or frustrating, but there are things that you can do to help make it easier.

These include:

  • Plan ahead and think about what you will need in order to be able to stay at home for the full 7 days.
  • Talk to your employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things you will need in order to successfully stay at home.
  • Think about and plan how you can get access to food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period.
  • Ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online, but make sure these are left outside your home for you to collect.
  • Make sure that you keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media.
  • Don’t forget to think of others too. Do you have friends, family or neighbours who might need extra help?
  • Think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have successfully completed a period of staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films.
  • When you are feeling better, remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing. Look for online classes or courses that can help you take light exercise in your home.

Read the latest stay at home guidance on GOV.UK.

Look after your mental and physical health.

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Keep learning
  • Take notice
  • Give

If you have to stay at home due to coronavirus (COVID-19), you may be feeling bored, anxious or lonely. Depending on your personal circumstances, there are also other issues to consider from finances to childcare.

It’s so important to understand how you are feeling and to do some simple things which can help you feel better. This includes looking after yourselves and others and making time for your mental health and wellbeing.

The good news is that there are plenty of easy, free and meaningful things we can do to increase our wellbeing. Five Ways to Wellbeing gives advice on what we can do every day to make ourselves feel good.

Where can I find more information?

More advice about coronavirus and your wellbeing can be found:

If in the coming weeks COVID-19 is spreading in the community this could mean the NHS is busier than usual so it’s important to think carefully about the NHS services you use.

If you start to experience symptoms and believe you could have coronavirus, do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital as you could pass the infection to others.

If you have mild symptoms, you do not need to call NHS111 to tell them you are staying at home.

If your symptoms persist past 7 days you should contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. Services like 999 or Accident and Emergency should only be used for genuine emergencies.

The first cases of COVID-19 in the UK were taken to specialist hospital wards so we could learn more about the virus and prevent it spreading to anyone else, but if we begin to see the virus spreading in the community, this approach will no longer be appropriate. It is unnecessary for everyone with COVID-19 to go to hospital as the majority will have mild symptoms.

We expect the majority of people who catch COVID-19 will make a full recovery without medical attention, but if you are concerned because you believe you are at greater risk, or feel your symptoms are becoming more severe, contact NHS 111 or alternatively 999 in an emergency.

We try to slow the spread of coronavirus for a number of important reasons:

  1. We are still learning about COVID-19. At the moment we believe that the majority of people who get the disease will experience a mild illness, but because this is a new virus we are not complacent, and our scientists will continue to learn from evidence emerging both here and internationally.
  2. Though we believe most people will have a mild illness, some older people or people with pre-existing health conditions will experience severe illness and we need to protect them.
  3. Trying to slow an outbreak so everyone isn’t sick at once is an important way to manage pressure on health services and prevent widespread staff sickness absence in our public services and businesses.

NHS England and Public Health England remain the two lead authorities for the management of Coronavirus in the UK. They are in control of all information relating to specific individual cases and would only ever share specific information to local authorities in exceptional circumstances.

Personal information on patients will not be released to ensure ongoing protection of their confidentiality. Public Health England is managing the gathering of information and approaching people believed to be at risk directly.

In any given event, knowing a location of a specific case does not protect the wider community from potential infection, as there may potentially be other unconfirmed cases elsewhere waiting for diagnosis so it would be wrong to assume that infection is only restricted to one particular location.

As a community we all have a role to play in further prevention.

The best way you can protect yourself and others is to continue to practice good hygiene:

  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • wash your hands regularly with warm soapy water for 20 seconds
  • do not touch your face, unless you have just washed your hands
  • if you cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue and then bin the tissue and wash your hands.

You should stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • or a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

Do not go to a GP surgery or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you're staying at home.

If your symptoms persist past 7 days you should contact NHS 111 online at 111.nhs.uk. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. Read advice about staying at home on the NHS website.

Find advice about how to report a business if:

  • a business is not closed or complying with social distancing directives
  • you have concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19) related scams
  • wish to report an incident of social gatherings or social distancing

Since COVID-19 began to spread quickly in China, it has been a major global news story and with this level of media and public interest it’s inevitable that myths, misinformation and rumours will be shared online.

The UK Government and the NHS will keep people informed of new advice and developments.

Please check the following sources of advice frequently:

Yes, Domestic Abuse support services are still available to you.

For some, having to isolate at home as a family will be a truly frightening experience. To them we say, "you are not alone".

The number of domestic abuse incidents will rise during the coronavirus outbreak. Being asked to stay at home, uncertainty over jobs and money may lead to increased stress within households.

COVID-19 is not an excuse for abuse.

  • National Domestic Violence 24 hour helpline – 0808 200 0247
  • Respect Phoneline 'Are you hurting the one you love? Choose to stop' – 0808 802 4040
  • In an emergency call 999 and use the silent solution:

If speaking or making an immediate sound would put you in danger and you need immediate help, call 999 and stay on the line, then press 55 when prompted and the call will be transferred to the police, who will know it is an emergency call.