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Testing, care and distancing


Information on coronavirus symptoms, testing and care, including social distancing and self-isolation. See also our related sections on Coronavirus Vaccinations, Infection Prevention and Control, and Data.


Symptoms and effects of coronavirus§

Symptoms of coronavirus – NHS 

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

Anyone who has the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) should get a test as soon as possible and stay at home until they get the result.


Data on coronavirus – ONS

The official UK Government website for data and insights on Coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated daily. Data includes infection rates, hospital admissions, deaths, and vaccination rates.


Prevalence of ongoing symptoms following coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the UK – 1 April 2021 - ONS

Estimates of the prevalence of ‘long COVID’ in the UK, using Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey data to 6 March 2021.  


Long-term effects of coronavirus (long COVID)- reviewed 18 March 2021 – NHS 

Includes information about the symptoms of long COVID and the treatment and support available.

See also DHSC film about younger people who have experienced long COVID: Long COVID: Hands, face space


Past COVID-19 infection provides some immunity but people may still carry and transmit virus – 14 January 2021 - DHSC

People infected with COVID-19 in the past are likely to be protected against reinfection for several months, a Public Health England (PHE) study has found, although experts cautioned those with immunity may still be able carry the virus in their nose and throat and therefore have a risk of transmitting to others.


Coronavirus and older people – British Geriatrics Society

This resource series brings together current advice from experts within the BGS relating to older people and the current COVID-19 pandemic. The resource is updated regularly.


Atypical Covid-19 presentations in older people – British Geriatric Society

Frontline experience both in the UK and in other countries suggests that many older people may present atypically. This blog outlines the atypical symptoms known so far.


Ethnic minority communities and the elderly called upon to bolster the fight against coronavirus – 13 October 2020 - BEIS

Researchers are calling on more people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and the over 65s to volunteer for clinical studies through the NHS Vaccine Registry.


Oral Statement: Quarterly report on progress to address COVID-19 health inequalities – 22 October 2020 – GOV.UK

The Minister for Equalities’ Oral Statement to the House, on the first quarterly report to the Prime Minister and Health Secretary on progress to understand and tackle COVID-19 disparities experienced by individuals from an ethnic minority background.

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Changes to free COVID-19 testing from 1 April 2022 – 29 March 2022 – DHSC

Free COVID-19 tests for the public will end from 1 April 2022.

People living or working in some high-risk settings will continue to get free tests. For example, staff in adult social care services such as homecare organisations and care homes, and residents in care homes and extra care and supported living services, People will also be tested before being discharged from hospital into care homes, hospices.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): health and wellbeing of the adult social care workforce: Updated 17 May 2021 - DHSC

Advice for those working in adult social care on managing your mental health and how employers can take care of the wellbeing of their staff during the coronavirus outbreak. Change made: Information about the Money Advice Service has been added


Coronavirus testing plays an important role in managing the spread of the virus. Testing is now widely available. Special arrangements are in place for social care staff and people who use care services.


Guidance for social care settings

Government guidance on the COVID-19 testing available for testing staff, residents and visitors for all adult social care settings. Please see the following testing guidance for a range of specific adult social care settings:



Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests

Everyone in England with or without symptoms is now able to take a free rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) test twice a week.

Given the critical role testing plays in helping to keep Adult Social Care (ASC) service users and staff safe, anyone working in adult social care who is not currently taking part in  a regular testing regime should access tests through this link and test twice a week. This may include Adult Social Care staff such as social workers and support workers as well as those working for charities or community organisations, shared lives carers, personal assistants, unpaid carers and others. Where appropriate, regular testing of people being supported (for example if attending respite) may also be beneficial. This will be crucial in detecting people that are infectious and to help maintain the safety of everyone in the adult social care sector.


Understanding lateral flow antigen testing for people without symptoms – updated 8 April 2021 - DHSC

An explanation of the technology behind asymptomatic testing and the role these tests play in the national COVID-19 testing programme.


Webinars on testing for extra care and supported living services - DHSC

Regular series of webinars at 11am on Wednesdays throughout March and April 2021.


Extra care and supported living – testing encouraged but not required for visits

Government has provided additional rapid lateral flow tests to support visiting in extra care and supported living settings. These tests will be available for all the settings which are currently eligible for staff testing. This guidance states that testing is not a requirement for visiting in extra care and supported living settings but is encouraged to support safer visits.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): antibody testing – updated 24 February 2021 – DHSC

Information about the government’s coronavirus antibody testing programme. In England, people over 18 working in paid adult social care are eligible for an antibody test. In Wales, people over 18 working in paid domiciliary care are eligible for a test.



Restricting workforce movement between care homes and other care settings – updated 3 March 2021 - DHSC

Guidance for care home providers on limiting staff movement between settings in all but exceptional circumstances to help reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection. Updated guidance on retesting within 90 days of a previous positive test in the ‘further guidance on testing’ section.


Testing for coronavirus at home – updated 2 March 2021 – DHSC 

Step-by-step guide available in different formats on how to use and return a PCR home test kit for COVID-19.


Care, including medicines§

Overview of all adult social care guidance on COVID-19 – DHSC

Information for adult social care providers about COVID-19 guidance and support. This page will be updated to reflect new DHSC, NHS and PHE advice as it becomes available. The guidance relates to England unless stated otherwise.


COVID-19: guidance for health professionals – DHSC and PHE 

Information on COVID-19, including guidance on the assessment and management of suspected UK cases.


Coronavirus (COVID-19): admission and care of people in care homes – Updated 1 April 2021 – DHSC, CQC, PHE and NHS England

How to protect care home residents and staff during the coronavirus outbreak.


COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing COVID-19 – 23 March 2021 - NICE

This guideline covers the management of COVID-19 for children, young people and adults in all care settings. It brings together existing NICE recommendations on managing COVID-19 so that healthcare staff and those planning and delivering services can find and use them more easily. The guideline includes new recommendations on therapeutics. The guideline will be updated as new evidence emerges.


Trials to find preventative COVID-19 treatments for most vulnerable to launch in UK – 20 March 2021 - DHSC

Two new clinical trials to develop treatments to prevent people catching (coronavirus) COVID-19 are to launch in the UK.


COVID-19 treatment: clinical trials invitation – 25 January 2021 – PROJECT

PROTECT is a UK-wide clinical trial to identify treatments that can protect care home residents from developing COVID-19.

If you are a Care Home Manager and would be interested in hearing more about the trial and potentially taking part, please complete the expression of interest survey. PROTECT is funded by the National Institute of Health Research. The survey is ongoing.


Vitamin D and clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) guidance – Updated 24 February 2021 - DHSC

2.7 million vulnerable people in England are being offered free daily 10 microgram (400 international unit) vitamin D supplements for the winter by the government. The vitamin D supplements are being offered to those on the clinically extremely vulnerable list (CEV) and those in residential and nursing care homes in England.


Coronavirus and end of life care – 17 December 2020 – Marie Curie

Information for health and care professionals supporting people at the end of life and their families.


Distancing, shielding and isolating§

(COVID-19) Coronavirus restrictions: what you can and cannot do

Coronavirus restrictions remain in place. Find out what you can and cannot do. These Government resources are updated regularly.


What is self-isolation? NHS

Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19). This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.


Social distancing: What you need to do - NHS

To stop the spread of coronavirus, you should avoid close contacnt with anyone you do not live with. This is called social distancing.


Guidance on shielding and protecting clinically extremely vulnerable persons – Updated 1 April 2021 - DHSC

Although the advice to shield has ended, clinically extremely vulnerable people must continue to follow the rules that are in place for everyone. Government is also advising clinically extremely vulnerable people to continue to take extra precautions to protect themselves.


Guidance for contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection who do not live with the person – Updated 30 March 2021 – PHE

Guidance for contacts of a person with a positive test result for coronavirus (COVID-19) who do not live with that person.


Getting support outside of your home – Updated 30 March 2021 - DHSC

The guidance explains how you can minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) while getting the help you need to:

  • get around in unfamiliar settings
  • communicate with others
  • go shopping
  • exercise