COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways, caused by a virus called coronavirus. The virus can cause pneumonia-like symptoms such as coughs, fever and breathing difficulties (in more severe cases).
The NHS is advising people to self-isolate if they have any coronavirus symptoms. This means that you should stay at home if you have either:
- A high temperature
Normal body temperature for adults is 37 degrees celsius when taken orally. A fever is a temperature of 38 degrees celsius or higher. If you don’t have a thermometer, flushed skin or your chest/back being hot to the touch is a good indication that you may have a fever.
- A new, continuous cough
This means coughing a lot for more than an hour or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours.
Following a small study of 100 coronavirus patients in Germany, some doctors think that losing your sense or taste or smell may also be an important early warning sign. This is especially true in younger people with no other symptoms.
If you have these symptoms, you should not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service in the first instance, and only call 111 if you cannot get help online. If you start to have difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention quickly by calling NHS 111.
It is understood that symptoms appear between two and tens days after contracting the virus, but it may be as long as 24 days. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.
If you have some of the above symptoms and need to self-isolate, download our Understanding Isolation guide for more information on taking care of yourself.