Coronavirus advice

Updated 05.01.22

For the latest information see

COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), get a test as soon as possible. Stay at home until you get the result.

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

If you think you have symptoms of coronavirus and need medical advice, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

What to do if you have symptoms

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, even if they’re mild:

  1. Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
  2. You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.

You can also get help from NHS 111 via the phone or online if you’re worried about your symptoms or not sure what to do.

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19).

This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.

How long to self-isolate

If you have symptoms, have tested positive for coronavirus or have been told to by NHS test and trace, you’ll usually need to self-isolate as per NHS guidance – see here.

How to avoid spreading the infection

It’s very important to do what you can to reduce the risk of you and other people getting ill with coronavirus.

You can spread the virus even if you do not have symptoms.


  • try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with (or anyone not in your support bubble)
  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • 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

Face coverings

If you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people.

There are some places where you must wear a face covering, such as:

  • on public transport
  • in shops
  • when you go to hospital appointments or visit someone in hospital

Some people should not wear face coverings, such as children under 3 and people with breathing difficulties.

To help yourself stay well:

  • get plenty of exercise
  • consider taking 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day if you’re indoors most of the day – this is to keep your bones and muscles healthy
  • try to quit smoking – smoking can make you more likely to get infections like coronavirus and become seriously ill
  • eat a healthy balanced diet

Pregnancy advice
If you’re pregnant and worried about coronavirus, you can get advice about coronavirus and pregnancy from the Royal College of Obstretricians and Gynaecologists.

Travel advice
There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.
If you’re planning to travel abroad and are concerned about coronavirus, see advice for travellers on GOV.UK.

Government advice

For the latest up to date information on coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance see Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance and support.

NHS services

The latest advice on NHS services is available here.

Adult mental health services

For information about adult mental health services in relation to coronavirus find adult mental health support.

The Supporting your mental health leaflet  leaflet contains useful online links for advice, information and support. It also has phone numbers you can use in a crisis (please only call if you really need to).

Lambeth Council

For information from Lambeth Council see

Helpline for people who are having difficulties caused by coronavirus
You or someone acting on your behalf can call the helpline for advice on issues you are having, including access to medicines and food. We’ll connect you to the right department or to other organisations, such as Age UK, who can help you get support.

Call the helpline on 020 7926 2999 which operates 8am and 8pm everyday.

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