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Coronavirus and COVID-19

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is short for COronaVIrus Disease 2019. The coronavirus infection can cause symptoms similar to flu:

  • a new continuous cough – you have started coughing repeatedly
  • high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • feeling short of breath

For most people the symptoms are mild but some will develop severe breathing problems and other complications. The evidence so far shows that the risk of severe symptoms is higher in people with weakened immune systems, older people and people with long-term conditions, including long-term lung conditions.

Because of how the outbreak is spreading, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the daily updates from Public Health England as well as reading guidance from the NHS.

The government is asking us all to stay at home to save lives and protect the NHS:

Am I at high risk?

You may be at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus if you:

  • have a severe lung condition
  • have had a lung or other organ transplant and are taking immunosuppressant medicine
  • are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
  • have another serious health condition


If you have symptoms of coronavirus - a high temperature or a new continuous cough

If you are social shielding, get advice from NHS 111 online as soon as you get coronavirus symptoms.

Stay at home for 7 days

If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, it is a good idea to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days if you can.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. Tips for staying at home.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you can’t cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days.

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

What you can read next:

Current on: Tuesday 24 March 2020
Last updated: Tuesday 24 March 2020


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Last medically reviewed: March 2020. Due for review: March 2020

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.