Coronavirus (COVID-19) - 5 things you can do to protect
yourself and your community
Public Health England:
In recent weeks cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been seen
in an increasing number of countries across the world and we expect
to see more cases here in the UK over the coming days and
The UK has well-established plans to deal with outbreaks of
infectious disease and everyone can play an important role in
making these plans work, slowing down the spread of
We try to slow the spread of coronavirus for a number of
Firstly, we are still learning about COVID-19. At the moment we
believe that the majority of people who get the disease will
experience a mild illness, but because this is a new virus we are
not complacent, and our scientists will continue to learn from
evidence emerging both here and internationally.
Secondly, though we believe most people will have a mild
illness, some older people or people with pre-existing health
conditions will experience severe illness and we need to protect
Finally, trying to slow an outbreak so everyone isn't sick at
once is an important way to manage pressure on health services and
prevent widespread staff sickness absence in our public services
There some simple and effective actions everyone can take to
protect themselves and their wider community:
1) Wash your hands frequently and catch coughs and
sneezes in a tissue
One of the ways we become infected, or pass on viruses to
others, is through the droplets in coughs and sneezes - for
instance through someone who has a virus, coughing onto their hand,
then touching a door handle.
A simple and effective way to protect yourself from coronavirus
is by making sure you wash your hands frequently with soap and
water, or a hand sanitiser if you are out and about. It's
particularly important to wash your hands once you get home or
arrive at work or before you prepare or eat food.
If you are unwell it's vital that you catch your coughs and
sneezes in a tissue, or use your arm if needed, throw the tissues
away, then wash your hands.
We've been promoting a "catch it, bin it, kill it" message
public information campaign and further adverts will be seen
across newspapers, online, TV and radio in the coming days.
2) Be prepared to self-isolate
If COVID-19 begins to spread in the community over the coming
days or weeks, people with symptoms of coronavirus (such as a cough
may be asked to self-isolate at home.
This may mean staying indoors and avoiding contact with other
people for up to 14 days.
If the virus is spreading quickly, we may ask whole households
to self-quarantine, if anyone in the home has symptoms.
It's very important to point out that we expect that the
majority of people who catch COVID-19 will not need to see a health
professional as their symptoms will be mild, such as those you
might expect with a cold or flu and treatable at home.
We understand that being asked to self-isolate could be
inconvenient, frustrating or boring, particularly if you have mild
symptoms and feel well enough to go out, but we will only ask
people to do this if doctors and scientists believe it is necessary
in order to slow the spread of coronavirus, protect people who are
vulnerable and help the NHS manage capacity.
Look out for updates from Public Health England,
the Department of Health
and Social Care or the NHS who will let you know
if and when we recommend self-isolation for people with symptoms.
If you need to self-isolate, please read this
important information on the NHS website as it will explain
what you need to do.
3) Plan ahead based on your situation
There are a number of ways to slow down an infectious disease
outbreak. Well-established tactics include self-isolation as
mentioned above, as well as measures sometimes referred to as
One example of social distancing could be encouraging more
working from home for instance, or another option could involve
urging people to continue to go to work or school as usual, but
reduce social activity or non-essential travel.
Looking ahead, what preparations could you put in place to help
you self-isolate if you needed to?
Do you have friends or neighbours who could bring food to your
house or run errands, or could you do online shopping?
Could you talk to your employer about opportunities to work from
home if this became necessary?
If you might be more vulnerable to severe symptoms of
coronavirus, have you considered the activities you have planned
over the coming weeks, listing which are essential and which you
could cancel if you needed to? Could you arrange to work from
Don't forget to think of others too. Do you have friends, family
or neighbours who might need extra help?
We understand that people will want to know whether and when any
social distancing measures (such as home working and limiting
travel, school closures or limiting public gatherings) could happen
but it is not possible to confirm this now.
These measures would only be implemented if scientists and
experts, including the UK's Chief Medical Officers, decide they are
necessary and proportionate, informed by the latest scientific
Any decision will balance both the need to protect people with
the importance of maintaining day to day life such as going to work
4) Use health services wisely
If in the coming weeks COVID-19 is spreading in the community
this could mean the NHS is busier than usual so it's important to
think carefully about the NHS services you use.
If you start to experience symptoms and believe you could have
coronavirus, do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital as you
could pass the infection to others. Visit NHS.UK/coronavirus or
NHS 111 if you need to speak to someone.
Accident and Emergency should only be used for genuine
The first cases of COVID-19 in the UK were taken to specialist
hospital wards so we could learn more about the virus and prevent
it spreading to anyone else, but if we begin to see the virus
spreading in the community this approach will no longer be
appropriate. It is unnecessary for everyone with COVID-19 to go to
hospital as the majority will have mild symptoms.
We expect the majority of people who catch COVID-19 will make a
full recovery without medical attention, but if you are concerned
because you believe you are at greater risk, or feel your symptoms
are becoming more severe, call NHS 111 or alternatively 999 in an
5) Stay up to date using trusted sources of
Since COVID-19 began to spread quickly in China, it has been a
major global news story and with this level of media and public
interest it's inevitable that myths, misinformation and rumours
will be shared online.
The UK Government and the NHS will keep people informed of new
advice and developments. Please check the following sources of
'I cannot commend the clinic enough. It is marvellous we
have this service at all and well done to you all.'
Patient, Coronary Heart Disease / Heart Failure Service, Shotley
Bridge Community Hospital