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Coronavirus – everything you need to know

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Updated 21st October 2020 - We recommend the coronavirus page on the NHS website for more up to date information.

Following the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) around the world, you may be wondering how you can stay safe and what you should do. The government have advice available on how you can help control the virus and what you need to do. We’re also here to answer any questions you may have and help you look after yourself and your family.

What is the coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a new disease that can affect your lungs and airways, in severe cases it can cause pneumonia. Discovered in 2019, this new virus stain had not been seen in humans before. COVID-19 belongs to the family of viruses known as coronavirus. This includes viruses such as the common cold and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). 


Do I need to worry about catching coronavirus?

You are at increased risk (clinically vulnerable) of coronavirus if you:

You are at most risk (clinically extremely vulnerable) from the coronavirus if you:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having certain types of cancer treatment
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
  • have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
  • have a condition or taking medicines that increase the chance of getting infections
  • are pregnant and have a serious heart condition

This list may not include everyone who is at a high risk, and it may change. The UK government and NHS have more information and have also issued guidance on the risk to the public as well as how you can protect yourself.

How can I stop the spread?

As it’s a new disease, the exact nature of how it spreads from person-to-person isn’t fully understood, although similar viral infections are often spread through the droplets released when coughing.


To help stop the spread of coronavirus everyone must:

  • Wear a face covering in enclosed places
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit your contact with other people
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Keep your distance from people not in your household

There are certain activities you can now do, people you can see and places you can visit. Find out more about what you can and can’t do here. Even when doing these activities, you should keep two metres distance from anyone outside your household.

Face coverings are now compulsory in a range of settings including shops, supermarkets and public spaces in England. For Scotland and Wales please check local guidance. 

If you are showing coronavirus symptoms, or if you or any of your household are self-isolating you must stay at home. Visit the NHS website or GOV.UK for more guidance.

Coronavirus symptoms

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms: 

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a 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 – you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell and taste different to normal.

If you have symptoms and have tested positive, or had an unclear result or did not have a test but have symptoms you should self-isolate for at least 10 days. You should also self-isolate if you tested positive but haven’t had symptoms. You should self-isolate for 14 days if you live with (or are in a support bubble with) someone who has symptoms and tested positive, had an unclear result or did not have test or have tested positive but not had symptoms.

What can I do to protect myself against respiratory viral infections?

To look after your health, we recommend you follow these simple steps to protect yourself and those around you against respiratory viral infections:

  • Washing your hands

    Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds throughout the day, especially after coughing, being on public transport, as soon as you get home or before/after handling food. Keep hand sanitiser with you at all times as it's easy-to-carry and cleanses without the need for rinsing, if soap and water are not available.

  • Throw tissues in the bin 

    When coughing or sneezing, it’s always best to cover your mouth with a tissue to stop virus-carrying droplets spreading to those around you. It’s important to throw your tissues in the bin straight away after each use and wash your hands.

  • Try to avoid close contact with people, especially if they appear unwell

    It’s always nice to offer help to a poorly friend or colleague but maintain social distance to avoid the spread of germs. You should also stay at least two metres away from people not in your household. 

  • Don't touch your eyes, nose or mouth

    Avoid touching your face wherever possible to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. 

  • Cover your face

    In England face coverings are now compulsory in shops, indoor shopping centres and supermarkets. You should also wear a face mask or covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is difficult or not possible. They're also compulsory on public transport, in hospitals and other settings. The covering needs to cover both your mouth and nose.

  • Wash your clothes regularly

    This is important if you are working with people outside of your household.

Please note: guidance is designed for people living in England but may differ depending on what alert level the area you live in falls under. If you are living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you should follow local guidance.

We recommend visiting the coronavirus page on the NHS website and Government guidance for more information.

If you’re worried or have any more questions you can speak to a member of your healthcare team for more advice, find your local store now.

A statement from Toby Anderson, Managing Director, McKesson UK CEO. Read Toby's statement.