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Staying safe and reducing your risk of COVID-19

Everyone is likely to feel differently about the risk of COVID-19. People who are immunosuppressed, or have specific other medical conditions, may have a reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases, including COVID-19. Ask your medical team about your risk and continue to follow any condition-specific advice you may have been given.

On this page we make suggestions about things you can do to reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 and passing it on to others. 

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Reducing your risk

As we learn to live safely with COVID-19, there are things we can all do to help reduce our risk of catching COVID-19 and passing it on to others. These actions will also help to reduce the spread of other respiratory infections, like flu, which can spread easily and may cause serious illness in some people: 

  • Vaccines: The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others. Research has shown the vaccines help to reduce your risk of getting seriously ill or dying from COVID-19, reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19 and protect against COVID-19 variants. If you have not yet had all of the vaccines you are eligible to receive please book an appointment today.
  • Hygiene: Using soap and water is the most effective way to clean your hands. Hands touch many surfaces and can become contaminated with viruses and other germs that can be transferred to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the germs can enter your body and infect you. Wash your hands often using soap and water or use hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Clean surfaces in your home often, especially surfaces that are touched frequently like handles, light switches, work surfaces and remote controls.
  • Face masks: Although masks are not a legal requirement anymore, there may be some settings where you’re still asked to wear one, like at hospital. Consider continuing to wear a mask in crowded public spaces. If you meet up with people you don’t normally live with you can choose to wear a mask and you can also ask them to wear a mask. Medical masks and respirator masks can provide you with better protection from COVID-19 than cloth masks. N95/FFP2 type masks are designed to form a seal around your nose and mouth so you only breathe air that has been filtered. This tight fit simply can’t be achieved by cloth masks and standard surgical masks. You can purchase N95/FFP2 type masks from pharmacies or online. 
  • Space: Even though it’s no longer a legal requirement, you may want to socially distance from people if that feels right for you. The risk of catching COVID-19 is greatest when someone who is infected is physically close to you. Distance Aware is a recognised symbol across the UK for people who wish to have a safe distance maintained. Initially launched by NHS Wales in 2020, it is supported by the Department for Health and Social Care, the Scottish Government and the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland. 
  • Fresh air: Open windows or doors to let fresh air in when sharing a space with people who you don't live with. Even opening a window for a few minutes helps remove older stale air that could contain virus particles and reduces the chance of spreading infections. The more fresh air that is brought inside, the quicker any viruses will be removed from the room. Consider reducing the time you spend in enclosed crowded spaces.
  • Test: Most people can no longer access free testing for COVID-19, but you can still ask visitors to take a lateral flow test if you wish. If you're eligible for COVID-19 treatments, you can order free COVID-19 tests to use if you have symptoms of COVID-19. If you are not eligible for COVID-19 treatments but still want to get tested you can buy a COVID-19 test from pharmacies or online. 
  • Symptoms: If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or a respiratory infection you are advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. Avoid meeting with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (and anyone in their household) until 10 days after they received a positive test. Try to avoid people who have symptoms of COVID-19 or other respiratory infections and have a temperature or feel unwell.
  • COVID-19 treatments: Antibody and antiviral treatments are available to people who have tested positive for COVID-19 who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill. As of 27th June 2023 the way you can access these treatments has changed. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms take a test as soon as possible. If any of your lateral flow tests are positive contact your GP surgery, hospital specialist or NHS 111 and they will refer you for treatment. COVID-19 treatments might help manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of you becoming seriously ill or being admitted to hospital. They are more effective the sooner they are taken, so make contact as soon as possible. If the first lateral flow is negative but you still have symptoms, take two more tests over the next two days.

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Helpful resources

If you’d like to talk, contact our Helpline Services on freephone 0808 808 5555 from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, or via Live Chat through our website. You can also email us at

You might find some of our other resources helpful: 

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