If you become unwell

What to do if you think you, or someone you live with, has COVID-19.

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COVID-19 symptoms

What to do if you develop symptoms and you are at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19

What to do if you develop symptoms and you are not at high risk

What to do if you are at high risk and someone you live with develops symptoms

You should also view the full government guidance for people at high risk and for people not at high risk.


COVID-19 symptoms

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:

  • a new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature (above 37.8°C).

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What to do if you develop symptoms and you are at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19

If you are at high risk of serious illness and you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature above 37.8°C and/or new and continuous cough):

  • Seek advice using the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you are having cancer treatment, call your key worker or chemotherapy helpline rather than NHS 111.
  • If you don’t have internet access, call NHS 111.
  • In an emergency, call 999 if you are seriously ill.

Do this as soon as you get symptoms. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

If you feel unwell in any other way, contact your medical team as usual.

If you need to go to hospital as a result of catching coronavirus, the government recommends that you prepare a single hospital bag. This should include:

  • details of your emergency contact
  • a list of the medications you take (including dose and frequency)
  • any information on your planned care appointments
  • things you need for an overnight stay (for example, nightwear, toothbrush, medication, snacks)
  • an advanced care plan, if you have one.

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What to do if you develop symptoms and you are not at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19

If you are not at high risk of serious illness and you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature above 37.8°C and/or new and continuous cough):

  • Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service for advice on what to do.
  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
  • You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.
  • Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.
  • If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

Take paracetamol to relieve your symptoms, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you. There is no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus worse, but until more evidence is available, the NHS is advising people not to take it if you have symptoms. If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.

You must remain at home until you are well. Current government guidance as at 24 March states:

  • If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.
  • If you live with other people and you are the first person in your household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days. All other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
  • If anyone else in your household starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when their symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
  • If you can, arrange for any vulnerable people who live with you (such as elderly people or people with underlying health conditions) to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.
  • If you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible.

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What to do if you are at high risk and someone you live with develops symptoms

Based on current government advice, if you are at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 and someone you live with develops symptoms:

  • If possible, you should arrange to stay with friends or family for 14 days to avoid contact with the person who has symptoms.
  • If you cannot move out of your home, stay away from the person with symptoms as much as possible. Visit our guidance on shielding for people with lymphoma for more information on how to do this.

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