Updated 5th Jan 2021 - We recommend the coronavirus page on the Government 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. We’re also here to answer any questions you may have and help you look after yourself and your family.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a new disease that can affect your lungs and airways, in severe cases it can cause pneumonia. 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).
When did COVID-19 start?
Discovered in 2019, this new virus stain had not been seen in humans before. The COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020 and remains an ongoing health crisis around the globe. While the vast majority of people who contract COVID-19 won’t become seriously ill, the virus can occasionally cause life-threatening complications necessitating hospitalisation.
For this reason, it’s important that everybody takes precautions to avoid becoming infected. This is particularly important if you are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
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.
If you’ve received a letter from the NHS informing you that you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, the guidance for how to protect against coronavirus will be slightly different. This is because your risk of serious complications from the virus is higher than for other people.
The NHS recommends the following for clinically extremely vulnerable people living in England:
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Avoid busy areas and stay away from other people
- You should work from home if you can
- You can still go out to exercise and for essential medical appointments
- You should wear a face covering when it's hard to stay away from people
- You can meet with one other household if you live alone and form a support bubble, you don't need to socially distance from them
For more information on what you can and can't do click here.
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.
The first thing to do is familiarise yourself with local guidelines, bearing in mind that these will be different whether you live in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, or are experiencing a local lockdown.
To help stop the spread of coronavirus everyone must:
- Stay at home
- Only meet other people for a permitted reason
- Wear a face covering in enclosed places
- Work from home if you can
- Wash your hands regularly
- Keep your distance from people not in your household
With a national lockdown in England, there are certain activities you can still 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.
Please note: guidance is designed for people living in England. If you are living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you should follow local guidance.
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.
You can treat symptoms at home by resting, drinking lots of water, and taking over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen and paracetamol. If you’re concerned about your symptoms, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.
What to do if you fall ill
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 10 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.
This means you have to stay home, and you cannot go outside to exercise or buy food. It’s a good idea to contact anyone you’ve been in close contact within the last 48 hours to let them know that you’re having 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.
Try not to use public transport
Where possible, walk, cycle or drive. If you have to use public transport, avoid travelling at peak times. You can learn more about travelling safely on public transport here.
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're working with people outside of your household, as the virus can stay alive on fabric for several days.
Keep your home clean
This means wiping down communal surfaces such as counters, door handles, phones and keyboards. Take extra care keeping communal bathrooms clean.
In addition to all of the above, you should try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This will not prevent you from contracting the virus, but generally being in good health means you are less likely to become seriously ill.
Try to exercise regularly, get lots of sleep, eat a balanced diet, and avoid drinking too much alcohol. If you haven’t been able to get outside in the sun, you can take supplements containing vitamin D – the NHS recommends 10mcg a day if you’re indoors most of the time. Just remember that vitamins and supplements should never be treated as a replacement for a healthy balanced diet.
How can LloydsPharmacy help?
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.
If you're 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.
A statement from Toby Anderson, Managing Director, McKesson UK CEO. Read Toby's statement.