Although we are unable to offer official advice ourselves, we recommend that everyone in the UK with concerns about the current outbreak keeps up-to-date with the very latest information issued by the UK Government, the NHS and the official English, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland public health bodies.

The Government has issued updated measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus. The most important thing anyone can do now is to stay at home – whether or not you have symptoms. It is important to remember that you can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

Please see the Government’s up to date guidance on how to protect yourself and others.

The only time you should leave the house is for

  • Going to a shop to buy essential items such as food or medicine. See if you can arrange home delivery for items wherever possible.
  • One form of exercise a day such as a walk or run. This should be on your own or with members of your household
  • Travelling to and from work and only when it is impossible for you to work from home
  • Medical reasons such as to provide care for a vulnerable person

If you do have to go outside you should stay at least 2 metres away from other people, time spent outside the house should be minimal, and you should wash your hands as soon as you get home.

The Government has stated that the above measures are to be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for those who are self-isolating, either as an individual or household, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded.

If you are a critical worker, you may leave the house to take children to and from school or their childcare provider (a list of critical worker sectors can be found here).

The current plan is for the Government to review the measures in three weeks’ time from the announcement, and then relax them if the evidence shows that is possible.


The NHS has issued some common-sense advice on what you can do to avoid coronavirus and stop the risk of it spreading.

  • Always wash your hands when you get home and into work
  • DO cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • DO put used tissues in the bin straight away
  • DO wash your hands with soap and water often and for at least 20 seconds – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • DO try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • DON’T touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Watch RSPH Trustee and hygiene expert Dr Lisa Ackerely, as she goes through the steps for effective hand-washing.

What to do if you have Coronavirus symptoms

The government has identified Coronavirus symptoms as having a new, continuous cough OR having a temperature of over 37.8 degrees or more.

If you have either of these symptoms the UK Government’s advice is to stay at home for 7 days. At this point you don’t need to call 111. If your symptoms are the same or worse after 7 days then you should seek medical advice.

If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

For up to date guidance on how to self-isolate, please see here.

What Do We Know?

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses common across the world. They are responsible for a variety of illnesses, ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory infections, such as pneumonia. They are ‘zoonotic’, which means they are sometimes transmitted between animals and humans (for example, investigations found that SARS was transmitted to humans from civet cats and MERS originated in dromedary camels).

The new strain – now named by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as COVID-19 – was first identified in Wuhan City, in Central China. Its main symptoms include coughing, a high temperature and shortness of breath. 

As COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus, public health officials are not yet certain how it spreads from person to person and there is currently no vaccine available (information correct on 25 March 2020). However, we do know that similar viruses are spread through cough droplets. It is unlikely to be spread through items like packages or food.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Advice

The following organisations provide the most reliable information and advice on the current coronavirus outbreak (from a UK perspective). Selected international resources are also included below:

 International Resources