Coronavirus symptoms and care
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus. This page tells you how to recognise symptoms and what you should do if you have symptoms. It also provides information about testing care workers and people who use care services for the virus.
Symptoms of Coronavirus§
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)
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above you should self-isolate at home.
If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started (if you live alone), or 14 days (if you live with someone who has symptoms). You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Flow chart on how to get access to COVID-19 tests for care staff, residents and clients. This includes links across to relevant information based on whether or not someone has symptoms and where they work or are receiving care.
If a care home suspects a resident has coronavirus symptoms
You should contact your local Health Protection Team (HPT) if:
- you suspect your care home has a new coronavirus outbreak
- it has been 28 days or longer since your last case and you have new cases
Your HPT will provide advice and arrange the first tests.
For testing in other situations, you should apply for testing kits.
You can apply for coronavirus testing kits to test the residents and staff of your care home. You can apply whether or not any of your residents or staff have coronavirus symptoms.
This testing is currently only available in England. At the moment, you can only get tests if your care home looks after older people or people with dementia.
Related resources on whole care home testing:
- DHSC letter on roll out of whole care home testing – 13 May 2020
- Testing referral form: downloadable Excel form
- Digital portal for care home testing
You can apply for a test if you are:
- an essential worker with coronavirus symptoms
- aged 65 or over with coronavirus symptoms
- someone who cannot work from home and has coronavirus symptoms (for example, construction workers or delivery drivers)
Apply for coronavirus testing kits to test the residents and staff of care homes for older people or those with dementia.
Registered managers can apply whether or not any residents or staff have coronavirus symptoms.
Letter from Helen Whately on plans to ensure staff and residents in care settings is more joined up and that available national capacity is targeted to areas and care homes with the greatest need.
The letter follows on from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care commitment (28 April) to offer a coronavirus test to every staff member and resident in every care home in England, whether symptomatic or not.
In the coming days, the Government will launch a digital portal for adult social care coronavirus testing, to make arranging tests for care homes as easy as possible. They will also make digital and clinically approved guidance available.
Anyone with a new continuous cough, a high temperature or the loss or change of sense of taste or smell can book a test by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus.
If you’re eligible for a test and you don’t have internet access you can call 119 in England and Wales or in Scotland and Northern Ireland, 0300 303 2713.
Tests for NHS and social care, patients, residents and staff will continue to be prioritised.
Care, including medicines§
The Government has announced a review which will analyse different factors that impact health outcomes from COVID-19. These factors include ethnicity, gender, obesity and the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups.
To complement the wider disparity review, a research call by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has jointly called for research proposals to investigate emerging evidence of an association between ethnicity and COVID-19 incidence and adverse health outcomes..
The government has announced that NHS staff, care home staff and care home residents will be eligible for testing whether or not they have symptoms. Working with PHE, CQC and ADSS, the government is also piloting sending packages of 'satellite' test kits directly to care homes across England to enable testing of residents.
Anyone eligible can book a test using an online portal.
100,000 people will be sent self-testing kits to determine if they are currently infected.
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.
Letter summarising arrangements for COVID-19 testing including:
- Residents at point of outbreak: contact local PHE Health Protection Team who will ensure swab kits are provided and tests are carried out.
- Residents post outbreak: Piloting approach that enables all residents in a care home that has an outbreak and need a test to have access to one. Further information to follow
- On admission from hospital to care home: Patients should be tested before admission. See guidance.
- Pre-admission from other settings: In development. In the interim use local testing arrangements.
- Ongoing surveillance: Some care settings will be invited to swab and test selected residents and staff as part of public health surveillance work
There are two routes through which your staff can be tested. Employers should either:
- use the online employer portal to upload details of those they know are self-isolating. In order to obtain a login, employers of essential workers should email firstname.lastname@example.org with two email addresses that will primarily be used to load frontline worker contact details.
- increase awareness of the employee portal amongst staff so that they can book a test directly for themselves or members of their household if they become symptomatic and are self-isolating. They can book a test through the self-referral service.
Mobile testing units, operated by the Armed Forces, will travel around the UK to increase access to coronavirus testing for frontline workers including care workers. Units will respond to areas of highest demand, travelling to test frontline workers and the most vulnerable at sites including care homes
The government has committed to provide a COVID-19 test to all care workers who need one. This commitment covers all social care staff, including staff and voluntary workers in residential care settings and providing home care support. Frontline care workers in England who would like to be tested should speak to their employer. Tests are currently carried out through a network of drive-through regional testing sites.
The government is also piloting mobile testing units which will travel to offer tests where they are needed, providing kits directly to care homes that have a particularly urgent or significant need.
The Government has commenced a major long-term study to track the spread of Covid-19 in general population. The study will include antibody testing to help understand levels of immunity. The aim is to involve up to 300,000 people to take part over 12 months.
Government announces that all symptomatic care residents will be tested for COVID-19 as testing capacity continues to increase. All patients discharged from hospital to be tested before going into care homes as a matter of course. All social care staff who need a test will now have access to one with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to contact all 30,000 care providers in the coming days to offer tests.
First advert from the NHS on COVID-19, published 18 March 2020
New 5-pillar plan outlines national effort to increase testing to 100,000 a day across the UK this month. Includes increased commercial swab testing for critical key workers in the NHS, before then expanding to key workers in other sectors.
There is no evidence from clinical or epidemiological studies that treatment with ACE-I or ARBs might worsen COVID-19 infection.
Recent media reports have suggested that chloroquine can protect patients from coronavirus or treat COVID-19, the illness caused by a coronavirus. Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are not licensed to treat COVID-19 related symptoms or prevent infection. Clinical trials are ongoing.
FAQs for the public on what they can and can’t do, including exercise, visiting friends, care for pets and animals.
NICE is reviewing the evidence re the use of NSAIDs in treating of COVID-19. In the interim, use paracetamol. Those currently on NSAIDs for other medical reasons (e.g. arthritis) should not stop them.
See all related information on coronavirus.