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Coronavirus facts and guidance


What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the Coronavirus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

How is Coronavirus spread?

Coronavirus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is important for us all to practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a tissue or failing that, into a flexed elbow).

The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is to be well informed about Coronavirus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. It is critical that everyone continues to protect against infection by washing hands frequently (for a minimum of 20 seconds) or by using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, and by not touching your face. Vaccinating yourself against Coronavirus is proven to provide a high rate of protection against Coronavirus; reducing both the chances of contracting Coronavirus and minimising the severity of symptoms if it is contracted. 

What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of Coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature and/or
  • A new, continuous cough and/or
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Protecting those who are vulnerable against Coronavirus

Some people, including older people, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women, are clinically vulnerable, meaning they are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. This group is no longer being advised to ‘shield’ but guidance on meeting family and friends has been updated, with a greater emphasis on personal responsibility. From 17 May, close contact with friends and family will be a personal choice, but you are encouraged to exercise caution. You should consider the guidance on risks associated with COVID-19 and actions you can take to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

For more information on protecting vulnerable people during the Coronavirus pandemic visit the Government’s website.

Protecting those who are vulnerable against Coronavirus

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