The National Health Service (NHS) has identified the specific symptoms to look for as either:
- A high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back, or your temperature measures >37.8.
- A new continuous cough – this means you have started coughing repeatedly.
Some patients may also have a runny nose, sore throat, nasal congestion, aches and pains or diarrhoea. Some people report losing their sense of taste and/or smell.
What will happen if I get it?
About 80% of people who get Covid-19 experience a mild case – about as serious as a regular cold – and recover without needing any special treatment.
About one in six people may become seriously ill. The elderly and people with underlying medical problems such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, or chronic lung conditions, are at a greater risk of serious illness from Covid-19.
As this is a viral infection, antibiotics are of no use. The antiviral drugs we have against flu will not work, and there is currently no vaccine. Recovery depends on the strength of the immune system.
Should I go to the doctor if I have a temperature or a cough?
No. In the UK, the NHS advice is now that anyone with symptoms should self-isolate at home for at least 7 days. If you live with other people, they should self-isolate at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home. This applies to everyone, regardless of whether they have travelled abroad.
In the UK, you should look on the dedicated coronavirus NHS 111 website for information or clarification. There is also a medical certificate available on the website if required by your employer for periods of self-isolation. Mild cases can be managed in your own home, but if you get worse, your symptoms last longer than seven days, or if you cannot access this and have concerns, you should initially call NHS 111. People will only be tested for the virus if they are admitted to hospital.