What is coronavirus?
COVID-19 is short for COronaVIrus Disease 2019. It is a disease that affects the lungs and airways. 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
- loss or change in your normal sense of smell, sometimes called anosmia - this can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked
- 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 read the latest guidance from the NHS and keep an eye on the updates on the websites for the UK governments and devolved administrations:
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
People at moderate risk include people who
- are 70 or over
- have a long-term lung condition that is not severe
- take medication that can affect the immune system, such as low doses of steroids
- are very obese (have a BMI of 40 or above)
Read more about what do if you have symptoms of coronavirus.
Recovering from coronavirus?
If you have breathing difficulties after coronavirus, find information and dedicated support for your physical and mental health.
What you can read next:
- What if I have symptoms of coronavirus?
- What should people with lung conditions do now?
- How can I cope with staying at home?
- What’s the difference between self-isolation and social distancing?
- What is social shielding?
Last updated: Friday 3 July 2020
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