The coronavirus outbreak first started in December 2019, when people in Wuhan, China began experiencing unusual cases of pneumonia. Since then it has spread across the entire globe and took a hold of almost every country, with over a million confirmed cases worldwide.
We at Steroplast Healthcare know that it can be not just difficult to understand, but also difficult to get through these trying times. This page is a resource for everything you need to know about coronavirus, from frequently asked questions to illustrations and videos, to help you better understand the virus.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered form of coronavirus. The virus that causes COVID-19 and the one that caused the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 are related to each other genetically, but the diseases are quite different.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a new dry and continuous cough and a high temperature, with mild symptoms being flu-like, for example a runny nose or a sore throat. It can be transferred via droplets from coughs or sneezes, which find their way into other people’s systems in the air if they are in close contact, or on surfaces onto people’s hands.
On the 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation labelled the coronavirus a pandemic after the spread of the virus was rapidly making its way around the globe.
What is the source of coronavirus?
The COVID-19 outbreak has been traced back to Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market which is a wet market in downtown Wuhan in China. Epidemiologists believe that this was where the virus initially jumped from animals to humans. The host species is currently thought to be a bat, which somehow transferred the virus to another animal, and then to humans.
When was it discovered?
COVID-19 was discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China and has since spread to almost every country in the world. However, the first coronavirus was discovered in the 1930s.
How did the outbreak start?
On December 31, 2019, China alerted WHO (World Health Organisation) of numerous cases of unusual pneumonia in Wuhan, which is in the Hubei province in China. Several of those infected worked at the city’s Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market. On January 7, officials announced they had identified a new virus that belonged to the coronavirus family and since then the infectious disease has spread to almost every country in the world with over a million people testing positive for it.
Has coronavirus been around since before 2019?
Yes. Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that were first discovered in the 1930s. COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) is a newly discovered coronavirus that was discovered in late 2019 in Wuhan City, in China.
One of the most famous previous types of coronavirus is the middle east respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) which was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012.
How dangerous is coronavirus?
About 80% of people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness, with symptoms similar to a seasonal flu or a common cold and recover without needing special treatment.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), About one in six people become seriously ill. Older people, and those with underlying health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer have a greater risk of developing serious illness.
How fast is COVID-19 spreading?
Coronavirus has been spreading around the world quickly, affecting almost every country, with there being more than a million confirmed cases worldwide.
Due to the rapid spread of the disease, on March 16th UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that people who have symptoms need to stay at home for 14 days, and on March 24th, he imposed a country wide lockdown, to increase the amount of people who are practicing social distancing. For a continuous update on the spread of coronavirus and the death toll, click here.
How can I catch COVID-19?
Coronavirus is thought to be spread between people who are in close contact with one another and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
It may be possible that a person can catch COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is why it is important that you frequently wash your hands with soap and water and also wipe and disinfect surfaces.
How do I know if I have coronavirus?
Common symptoms of coronavirus include:
- High temperature
- Dry and continuous cough
Other symptoms can be similar to the common cold and include:
- Trouble breathing
- Aches and pains
- Sore throat
- Diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose
You can use the NHS 111 online service to check your symptoms and for medical advice here: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19
What do I do if I think I have coronavirus?
If you think you have a high temperature or a new, continuous cough, or would like to check any of your other symptoms, use the NHS 111 online service for medical advice.
If you think you have coronavirus then the current NHS advice is to self-isolate. This means staying at home for 7 days, frequently washing your hands with soap and water and avoiding places that you are likely to spread it, such as public transport. You should also cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow. Have a look at the self-isolation section of this page for more information.
How big could the pandemic get?
The coronavirus pandemic is already big, having spread to nearly every country in the world since it first emerged in China at the end of 2019.
There are social distancing measures that are being taken worldwide to reduce the spread of the virus and to flatten out the epidemic curve and therefore reducing strain on health care systems, and on social economic well-being. This includes encouragement of working from home, discouraging public gatherings, school closures, travel bans, and online medical consultation and testing.
It is predicted that UK deaths could rise to 20,000 by August 2020. This is different to the predicted 500,000 deaths that could have occurred had there not been a countrywide lockdown.
Do facemasks prevent infection?
Facemasks and respiratory masks are effective against coronavirus only if you wash your hands regularly with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water. Facemasks – or n95 masks – are advised for healthy people who are taking care of a person who might have COVID-19, or if you are showing symptoms of coronavirus. This is to prevent you from contracting coronavirus from the ill person, or to prevent you from giving it to them, if you are showing symptoms.
Is there a cure for COVID-19?
Currently, there are no existing drugs that can fight the coronavirus infection, and treatments for COVID-19 patients are based on the kind of care given for influenza and other serious respiratory illnesses. These treatments essentially treat the symptoms, which often include fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Researchers at universities and other companies are working on vaccine development to treat coronavirus, but due to the lengthy process of human trials which includes tests to see how it invades human cells, a vaccine is predicted to not be ready for another 18 months from March 2020. Although governments and institutions are working hard to fast track this process where possible.
One of the clinical trials has involved extracting the genetic code for the protein spike on the surface of Sars-CoV-2, which is the part of the virus most likely to provoke an immune response in humans and pasting it into the genome of a bacterium or yeast – forcing these microorganisms to churn out large quantities of the protein.
Is there a vaccine against COVID-19?
Not yet. The virus is so new and different that it needs its own vaccine, which will most likely not be ready for another 18 months from March 2020.
Currently, several companies and academic institutions are developing a COVID-19 vaccine, with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) making an urgent call for $2 billion to support the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus.
The first human trial of a vaccine started in March in the United states, where four patients received the jab. The vaccine cannot cause COVID-19 but contains harmless genetic material copied from the virus that causes the disease. Experts say it will still take many months to know if this vaccine, or others also in research, will work.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases have also funded scientists and are exploring ways to treat and prevent coronavirus infections by working to develop new antibodies, drugs, and vaccines that block entry to cells, delay the immune system response, or block viral replication.
As of April 20th at least 80 coronavirus vaccine projects are underway around the world. The first UK vaccine candidate to prevent coronavirus is set to begin clinical testing on human volunteers soon (as of April 20th). Its developers at the University of Oxford hope to have 1 million vaccine doses ready by September to carry out large-scale clinical trials during the autumn and then to produce 100 million doses by the end of the year.
What medicines are effective against COVID-19?
To date, there is no specific medicine advised to prevent or treat the new coronavirus. However, those infected with the virus should be given appropriate care to relieve and treat symptoms, and those with severe illness should receive optimised supportive care. Some specific treatments are under investigation and will be tested through clinical trials.
Other research has found that HIV drugs such as Chloroquine are also not an effective treatment for COVID-19, as it can cause the heart muscle to take longer than normal to recharge between beats.
How do I prevent catching the virus?
There are several things you can do to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus:
- Frequently wash your hands with water and soap and dry hands thoroughly using paper towels
- If there is no water and soap available clean your hands by using alcohol-based hand sanitisers
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and/or a cough
- Stay at home as much as possible and only go outside for essential things
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose or mouth
- Catch coughs and sneezes in tissues or a facemask
Does hand washing prevent catching the coronavirus?
Yes. Your hands are one of the main routes that viruses make their way from surfaces to your respiratory system, so washing them frequently is one of the easiest and effective ways to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The technique to washing your hands properly includes washing them with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, or alcohol-based hand sanitiser that has at least 60% alcohol in it.
After washing your hands, make sure you dry your hands completely with paper towels, to prevent using the same towel as someone else.
Do hand sanitisers prevent catching the coronavirus?
Yes, hand sanitiser can prevent catching coronavirus. It is recommended that people use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser gel that has at least 60% alcohol in it, if soap and water is not readily available.
Our hand sanitising products have 70% alcohol in them and are clinically proven to be effective against coronaviruses. We also have a range of chlorine, alcohol and alcohol-free wipes for cleaning surfaces and equipment, that are effective against coronavirus and have been proven to kill 99.999% of germs within 30 seconds.
Which hand soaps kill the coronavirus?
Every type of soap kills the virus and makes it inactive, when applied to a thorough hand washing procedure of at least 20 seconds, and alcohol-based products with 60% alcohol in them, such as hand sanitisers are equally effective at killing coronavirus.
Steroplast manufactures and distributes a range of hand sanitisers that have 70% alcohol in them and are highly effective against coronavirus. You can find them here: https://www.steroplast.co.uk/product/sterosan-hand-sanitising-rub-500ml/
According to Pall Thordarson, a professor of chemistry at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, soap dissolves the lipid (fat) membrane, which is the weakest link of the virus, and the virus falls apart. Soap does this as it contains fat-like substances known as amphiphiles, some of which are structurally very similar to the lipids in the virus membrane. The soap molecules then compete with the lipids in the virus membrane, which is similar to how soap also removes normal dirt from the skin.
Should I avoid public spaces?
Yes. You should avoid public spaces, public transport and contact with other people who are not already living with you. You need to stay at home when possible, only leaving the house for the following reasons:
- Shopping for basic necessities
- One form of exercise a day
- Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home
This measure is in place as mass gatherings and touching objects and surfaces in public spaces can increase the spread of the virus.
Can I visit my family members?
Current UK government guidelines state that you must stay at home and therefore cannot meet with friends or family members or go to family members houses who do not live in your home. If you are an at-risk group, then you should practice these social distancing measures for 12 weeks from the day you received your letter from the NHS. You are allowed out in groups of 2 maximum with someone from within your household.
If you or a member of your household are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, then you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise should be taken within your home, if possible. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in your house became ill. If not possible, then you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get supplies.
Can children visit separated parents?
Children of separated parents are able to move between households during the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, minister Michael Gove has said. The government guidance says: “Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”
Can I have visitors at home?
According to the current government instructions, you can’t have friends and family members visiting your home. The only people that should be in your home are the people that live with you already and essential visitors, such as the NHS or someone that cares for you professionally.
How can I protect my family?
There are several things that you and your family can do to stay protected from the coronavirus disease:
- Wash your hands frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue
- Stay home and avoid leaving your house as much as possible, see more here. (Anchor to “Should I avoid public spaces?” question)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
- Avoid touching surfaces in public spaces
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
When it comes to vulnerable members of the house, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website recommends that you choose a room in your house that can be used to separate sick household members from others. They also recommend that if someone in your house is sick then:
- Continue to practice everyday preventive actions
- Keep the ill person in a separate room from others in the household
- If caring for a sick household member, follow recommended precautions and monitor your own health
- Keep surfaces disinfected
- Avoid sharing personal items
- If you become sick, stay in contact with others by phone or email
- Stay informed about the local outbreak situation
- Notify your work if your schedule needs to change
- Take care of the emotional health of your household members, including yourself
The best way to protect your family is to make sure you observe the lockdown measures implemented by the government, as this is the best way to slow the spread and protect the NHS.
How long does coronavirus last on surfaces?
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases states that the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study from National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine. Other research suggests that the virus particles can even hang around for up to 28 days in low temperatures. This is why it is important that you disinfect surfaces and wash your hands frequently.
How do I prevent spreading the virus?
Here are some things that you can do to slow the spread of the infection:
- Wash your hands with soap and water often and for 20 seconds
- Use hand sanitiser gel that has at least 60% alcohol in it, if soap and water are not available
- Wash your hands as soon as you get back home
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Wear a facemask when others are around you
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- Practice social distancing measures by avoiding close contact with other people and work from home, if possible
- Clean and disinfect surfaces
Is coronavirus airborne?
The exact length of time the viral particles hang in the air before they dissipate depends on a variety of things, including the temperature and humidity of the area and other mitigating factors about the surrounding environment. It is estimated to survive around 30 minutes in the air, which is why you must stay 2 metres apart from other people.
However long the virus can last, while it is in the air in droplets, anyone within two metres of the cough or sneeze can breathe it in and become infected, which is why it is important to practice social distancing measures.
Is it just droplets from the nose and mouth that spread the virus?
As COVID-19 is a respiratory virus, it’s transmitted through respiratory droplets. These come from the nose or mouth when sneezing or coughing. The virus then enters the body through someone coming into contact with these droplets, either by inhaling them, or touching a surface that has the droplets on. It enters the body via the eyes, nose or mouth, which is why it is important to avoid touching your face.
Am I classed as a vulnerable person and what should I do?
A vulnerable person is someone who might have a weakened immune system and are at increased risk of severe illness due to catching coronavirus, and can be:
- Aged 70 or older
- Under 70 with underlying medical conditions such as:
- chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
- problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
- a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
- those who are pregnant
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia who are at any stage of treatment
- people who have received an organ transplant and remain on ongoing immunosuppression medication
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radiotherapy
- people with severe chest conditions such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
- people with severe diseases of body systems, such as severe kidney disease (dialysis)
Those who are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus are advised by the government to take social distancing measures seriously by staying away from friends and family and stay at home. If you have received a letter from the NHS about you being a vulnerable person, then you must stay at home for 12 weeks, from the date of receiving the letter.
How does coronavirus affect the old aged and children?
Elderly people (over 70) are more at risk of catching coronavirus and developing severe illness from it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that 8 out of 10 coronavirus deaths reported in the U.S have been in people aged 65 years and older.
Children can catch the virus but often develop much milder symptoms from it, however, if they have respiratory conditions or other pre-existing health conditions, it might affect them more severely. However, other cases have been emerging which show the virus to have affected those who are also young with no underlying health conditions, with some sadly dying from the virus.
What happens if I live with a vulnerable person?
Age UK have recommended the following advice for people living with a vulnerable person:
- Vulnerable people should minimise the time they spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting rooms.
- A vulnerable adult should sleep in a separate bed and room, where possible
- Keep 2 metres away from any vulnerable person
- Use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household, if possible, as well as separate towels for bathing and drying their hands. If people are sharing a bathroom, the advice is to clean it every time it’s used by wiping down surfaces you have come into contact with
- Kitchens should be used at separate times by vulnerable people, and they should eat in their own room
For some things that you can do to slow the spread of the infection, click here (Anchor to how do I prevent spreading the virus question)
I am a caregiver to a vulnerable person, what should I do?
If you’re caring for someone and are worried what will happen if you are unable to visit, make sure you have a contingency plan in place. This should detail the medication the person you’re caring for is on, important contact numbers and who can step in when the main carer is unwell.
The NHS has written to everyone considered to be at risk of severe illness if you catch the coronavirus and you may have received the letter if you are named as the named carer of someone else who is. If a person you care for has received this letter, they must stay at home at all times and avoid all face-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks, except from you as their carer and healthcare workers continuing to provide essential medical care. However, if you start to display any of the symptoms of coronavirus, you must suspend your face-to-face visits.
If you do not live with those you care for, we suggest you keep in regular contact over the phone, through email or through video calls.
Can pets catch coronavirus?
Currently, the World Health Organisation and PDSA states that there’s no evidence that pets and companion animals can be a source of infection or that they can become sick from COVID-19.
What are the first signs of COVID-19?
The first signs can range from mild to more severe, and about 80% of people who get COVID-19 experience a mild case about as serious as a common cold and recover without needing any special treatment. The first symptoms of coronavirus are usually:
- A high temperature – feeling hot to touch on your chest or back
- A new, continuous and dry cough – coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
- Trouble breathing and shortness of breath
Some patients may also experience:
- A runny nose
- A sore throat,
- nasal congestion
- aches and pains
If you think you have the symptoms of coronavirus, we recommend that you use the NHS 111 online service.
How soon do the symptoms show?
Symptoms are thought to appear between 2 and 10 days after contracting the virus, but it may be up to 24 days. If anyone in your house is showing symptoms, UK government guidelines say that everyone in the household should self-isolate and stay at home for 14 days.
Can you have coronavirus without a cough?
Yes. Professionals have explained that while the virus is mainly spread by people who are showing symptoms, some people are infected but not showing symptoms. For most people, COVID-19 will be a mild illness and you may not even notice you have it.
A continuous cough is the normal tell-tale sign of the virus, but it is possible that you won’t have this symptom and still have coronavirus. You can also have a high temperature, feeling hot to touch on your chest, as well as a sore throat, runny nose and aches and pains.
Is a sore throat a sign of coronavirus?
Yes, although it is a less frequent symptom.
Is headache a sign of coronavirus?
Yes, but it is quite rare. If you don’t have any other symptoms along with your headache then it is highly unlikely that you have coronavirus.
Is earache a sign of coronavirus?
Yes, a symptom of coronavirus can be pressure in the ears, making you feel fullness and pressure in your ear, as well as some muffled hearing and sometimes even earache. It is not a main symptom, but it has been reported.
What does the coronavirus feel like?
People with coronavirus most commonly experience a fever, tiredness, a dry and continuous cough and shortness of breath. Some people also have a runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion and aches or pains or diarrhoea.
When should I call the doctor after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms?
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 and believe you have caught the infection, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service here: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ . Only call 111 if you cannot get help online. You should also check with your local authorities for the latest advice on seeking medical assistance.
What to do if I have difficulty breathing?
Shortness of breath can be related to other serious illnesses, however respiratory illness and breathing problems are a common symptom of coronavirus. If you are experiencing shortness of breath then make sure you practice self-isolation seriously and use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service as a priority to see if you need further care: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/
What are the differences between coronavirus and a flu virus?
Although the symptoms can be quite similar, the common cold is caused by a different strain of virus to the COVID-19. The common cold causes mild infection in the upper respiratory tract and produces relatively mild symptoms that come on quite rapidly. Flu symptoms include:
- Body aches and pains
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
An uncomplicated case of the flu typically resolves in about 3 to 7 days and just 1% of people with the flu are hospitalised.
People who contract COVID-19 suffer from respiratory illness and the symptoms can come on more gradually. The main symptoms are:
- Dry cough
- Shortness of breath
An estimated 20% of confirmed cases of COVID-19 are severe or critical and some people may experience worsening of respiratory symptoms in the second week of illness, on average after 8 days.
How do I test for the coronavirus?
The UK Government has announced that soon, coronavirus antibody tests will be able to be conducted at home, with finger-prick kits, but no one has been able to say when the kits will be in circulation. They later stated that it would be some time before the tests were available and that blood samples would need to be posted to a laboratory for analysis. As well as this, shortage of key chemicals is slowing down efforts to expand testing for COVID-19, meaning officials are working on finding alternative components.
These antibody tests can detect the presence of coronavirus and tell you if you’ve had it before and have since recovered. UK Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, says once the government is confident they work, they will try to work out first how many people are getting coronavirus with no symptoms. They will then use it for NHS staff and as more tests become available, the government wants to be able to test NHS staff and people with mild symptoms.
How do I take my temperature?
There are several types of thermometer you can use to check your body temperature. These include:
- Digital thermometers
- Electronic ear thermometers
- Forehead thermometers
- Plastic strip thermometers
- Pacifier thermometers
- Glass and mercury thermometers
If you think you have a high fever, you can use the following methods to take your temperature:
- Place thermometer tip in centre of armpit
- Tuck your arm against your body for a minute
- Remove the thermometer and check temperature
- Place thermometer tip under your tongue
- Hold the thermometer in place for about one minute
- Remove the thermometer and check temperature
- Gently tug on ear to straighten ear canal
- Insert digital ear thermometer into ear canal
- Squeeze and hold button for one second
- Remove the thermometer and check temperature
Who gets tested and how does it work?
Tests have so far been focused on those admitted to hospital, with anyone with milder symptoms told to self-isolate at home. The majority of tests so far have been carried out in hospitals or in people’s homes, with a small amount of random sampling via GP surgeries.
A test for those suspected to be suffering from COVID-19 involves a swab of the nose or the back of the throat. These are sent off to a lab to be analysed for the genetic sequence particular to the coronavirus. But a blood test can be used for patients believed to have had the condition and since recovered. The finger-prick test identifies the antibodies produced inside you to fight off an infection, indicating that the patient may have near-immunity from the disease for at least 28 days. Although millions of tests have been ordered, health officials have been cautious about rushing to buy an unproven test.
For more information on testing for coronavirus, click here. (Anchor to ‘How to test for coronavirus’ question)
How do I know if I previously had coronavirus?
Governments around the world are currently working to increase their testing, with tests being developed in laboratories and academic centres. There has recently been an increased interest in the development and deliverance of antibody tests, which may be able to help prevent further spread of the virus.
An antibody test is designed to be able to detect whether a person has already had the coronavirus before and has since recovered, which is done on blood samples. The test would do this by testing individuals’ antibodies to see if they have already had the virus and recovered from it and therefore may have gained a certain degree of immunity to it. Until you have been tested, you can’t be certain that you have had it and should still practice self-isolation.
What is self-isolation?
Self-isolation means you must avoid all close contact and stay at home, only allowing people in your home who are essential visitors, such as the NHS or care workers. You can’t allow friends or family members in your home who are not people you live with. If you can work from home, then you must do this. If you are having something delivered or if family and friends are bringing shopping or other essentials, then the delivery driver should drop them to the doorstep. If you are considered an ‘at risk’ group, you must self-isolate for 12 weeks, and your letter from the NHS will provide you with more information about how you can get support at home with shopping for essentials.
You should self-isolate if you have the symptoms of coronavirus or if you live with someone who does, and under no circumstances should you leave your home. If this is the case then you need to self-isolate for 7 days from when the symptoms started and if after 7 days you still have a high temperature, you need to keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal.
What is social distancing?
Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction and close contact between people in order to reduce the transmission and slow the spread of the virus. This includes:
- Avoiding social contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus or an infected person
- Avoiding non-essential use of public transport when possible
- Work from home, where possible
- Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces
- Avoid gatherings with friends and family
- Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?
Isolation separates sick people with coronavirus from people who are not sick to prevent the spread of a disease.
Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to contagious diseases, such as coronavirus to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to an infectious disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.
What if I live with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus?
Most people who get sick with COVID-19 will have only mild illness and should recover at home. If you live with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus there are some simple steps and precautions you can take to prevent contracting the virus:
- Staying physically apart as much as possible. This includes sleeping in separate rooms and using different bathrooms if you can and minimise the amount of time you spend in shared spaces such as the kitchen. Try and stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) apart
- Regularly disinfect frequently used surfaces such as kitchen counters
- Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly. Make sure to sneeze or cough into tissues, your elbow or sleeve and dispose of tissues straight afterwards
- Don’t share food or use the same towels or dishes. Make sure everything has been washed thoroughly before it’s used by someone else.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that If you are caring for someone at home, monitor for emergency signs, prevent the spread of germs, treat symptoms, and carefully consider when to end home isolation.
How do I treat someone who has symptoms of covid-19?
In order to treat them, the NHS recommends that you:
- Make sure the sick person drinks a lot of fluids to stay hydrated and rests at home.
- Give them over-the-counter medicines may help with symptoms.
You and everyone else in the household must stay at home for 14 days from when the symptoms started.
Am I allowed to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic?
Whether you’re allowed to work from home, of course, depends on your role and if it is possible to do your job from your home. Due to the coronavirus and the current rules that we have to stay at home as much as possible, if your workplace remains open during the pandemic, the government’s guidance for employers and businesses on coronavirus states that businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to do remote working, wherever possible.
During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s very unlikely that employers can carry out usual health and safety risk assessments at an employee’s home. However, an employer should still check that:
- each employee feels the work they’re being asked to do at home can be done safely
- employees have the right equipment to work safely
- managers keep in regular contact with their employees, including making sure they do not feel isolated
- reasonable adjustments are made for an employee who has a disability
How can I work from home due to coronavirus?
Due to the coronavirus outbreak some people will be working from home for the first time and are figuring out how to stay on task and how to set up an effective office space. How you can work from home, depends on the type of job you do, but if it is an office-based job, here are some of our tips for remote workers:
- Get dressed – Washing and getting dressed will not only improve your state of mind, it will psychologically prepare you to start work.
- Create a home office that is a space where you do your remote work, rather than doing it from your bed. A separate office over an office in the bedroom would be preferable, but sometimes that’s not possible, so creating a dedicated workspace in a bedroom can be the next best thing.
- Establish boundaries – It is important to stick to the hours you would usually work. Be ready to start your day at the same time as you would normally arrive in your office or workplace and finish your day at the same time.
- Get out and about (if you’re not self-isolating) – In the absence of your daily commute, working from home shouldn’t mean you stay cooped up indoors all day. After you’ve finished for day, or even during your lunch break, go for a walk or something similar.
- Phone your colleagues – When working from home, you’ll probably be alone and will be missing the face to face conversations you usually have in the office. Make sure you make some time to pick up the phone and have a real conversation, or use video conferencing apps, rather than relying on email and instant messaging.
- Take regular breaks – You shouldn’t be glued to your screen all day. It’s important to take regular screen breaks and get up from your desk.
How will my wages be paid?
Due to the coronavirus crisis, small businesses, struggling companies and self-employed workers have been offered a safety net in the form of financial help by the government, to help keep their businesses afloat and staff paid during the coronavirus outbreak. On March 20th, UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the Government will pay employers grants covering up to 80% of the salary of workers, to enable them to be furloughed rather than laid off. These payments will be worth up to a maximum of £2,500 a month and the employee’s wage will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions.
From April, Local Housing Allowance rates will be increased to 30% of market rents. This will apply to all private renters who are new or existing Universal Credit housing element claimants, and to existing Housing Benefit claimants.
What does furlough mean?
Furlough leave, means ‘on a leave of absence’ and has been temporarily introduced by the Government as a Job Retention Scheme during the coronavirus pandemic, which keeps employees on the payroll without them working. The ability to furlough employees is designed to support employers who are severely affected by coronavirus.
As the furloughed worker is kept on the payroll, this is different to being laid off without pay or being made redundant. For employees on the job retention scheme, the Government will cover 80% of their wages with a cap of £2,500 per month. Anyone working in a full-time job (or on a PAYE basis) on March 19th can be furloughed. This includes people on zero hours contracts or those working flexibly.
Furloughed employees will not qualify for the full 80% of their salary if they earn more than £2,500 per month. In that case, an employer could choose to top up their salary, or they may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.
What will happen if I am furloughed?
On the coronavirus job retention scheme, furloughed workers will still be getting paid, but not working. Any UK employer can apply to the scheme to temporarily cover people’s salaries.
Depending on their situation, they will need to prepare for the loss of income as they will only receive 80% of their usual wage costs, with a maximum of £2,500 per month. This includes people on zero hours contracts or those working flexibly. Alternatively, it may be possible for employees to agree with their employers to work from home or alternatively employers may agree to allow staff to take time off as annual leave or unpaid leave.
In terms of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), employees can get £94.25 per week if they’re too ill to work. If an employee is staying at home because of COVID-19 they can now claim SSP. This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine. It’s paid by employers for up to 28 weeks.
What is the best way to do video conferencing?
Due to coronavirus, you may have been advised to avoid the office and work from home instead. There are several video conferencing apps available to make working from home as easy as possible and we have made a list of video conferencing apps you can use:
- Zoom – This app allows you to start or join face-to-face video calls with up to 100 people
- Microsoft Teams – This is a teamwork hub that fuses group chat software with collaboration tools
- Skype – This is a great communications tool and allows free video and voice calls as well as messaging
- Google Hangouts Meet – This app offers high definition video and audio meetings with up to 250 participants
- Cisco Webex – This allows for video conferencing, online meetings, screen share, and webinars.
There are some do’s and don’ts when it comes to video meetings. Make sure that you:
- Test your computer and internet connection beforehand. This includes microphones, speakers and headphones. Make sure that your internet speeds are fast enough to support a decent level of quality for a video call.
- Pick a good, suitable background and make sure it doesn’t look messy
- Know when it is necessary to video conference and when you can just message a colleague.
- Find a quiet, private space where you won’t be disturbed or distracted.
And make sure that you don’t:
- Don’t talk over each other and use the chat whenever possible
- Dress inappropriately for your audience
We hope that we answered any questions you had about coronavirus, and about how to get through these difficult and trying times. If you want to have a look at products that are effective against spreading and catching coronavirus, such as hand sanitiser (with 70% alcohol), disinfectant spray and surface wipes, have a look at our website here