Latest Public Health England information and advice on coronavirus

The government has now set out a plan to ease lockdown restrictions, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.

While you should still stay at home as much as possible, some outdoor activities are now allowed as long as you are following social distancing advice. For information on what you can and cannot do, see the government's coronavirus guidance.

What to do if you think you might have coronavirus

The advice on what to do if you or someone in your household has symptoms of COVID-19 has not changed.

Stay at home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell.

If you have symptoms, you need to stay at home for seven days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

If you live with someone who is aged 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

Read more advice about actions to take on the NHS website here. Information about COVID-19 in different languages is available in our patients and visitors section.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.


To protect our patients and staff from coronavirus, visiting will now only be permitted if it has been agreed by the nurse-in-charge. Read more

Like the common cold, coronavirus infection usually occurs through close contact with a person with novel coronavirus via cough and sneezes or hand contact.

A person can also catch the virus by touching contaminated surfaces if they do not wash their hands.

Testing of suspected coronavirus cases is carried out in line with strict guidelines. This means that suspected cases are kept in isolation, away from public areas of GP surgeries, pharmacies and hospitals and returned home also in isolation. Any equipment that come into contact with suspected cases are thoroughly cleaned as appropriate. Specific guidance has also been shared with NHS staff to help safeguard them and others. Patients can be reassured that their safety is a top priority, and are encouraged to attend all appointments as usual.

Everyone is being reminded to follow Public Health England's advice to:

  • always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel
  • wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport. Use a sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

Further information and advice is available via Public Health England’s ‘Public health matters’ blog, which is being updated regularly.

There has also been information published to answer commonly asked questions raised by parents, which can be found on the Healthier Together website which provides health advice for young people and their families. 

Although there is no separate advice or precautions that have been identified for pregnant women, further information and answers to common questions for expectant mums can be found on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists here.

Important notice about coronavirus testing at UHS

Our microbiology department is currently receiving a large number of calls regarding coronavirus which is impacting its resource. The department is unable to deal with any requests for testing or results directly and we would ask that patients wait for calls back from the appropriate teams.

  • If you are a patient awaiting a call back to attend for coronavirus testing, you will be called back by a member of staff
  • If you were tested at UHS you will be called when the results become available
  • If you are from another microbiology laboratory/hospital or are a patient from a non-UHS area of the south east of England, automated result reports are sent twice a day from our laboratory to the dedicated laboratory in each area who will provide results
Posted on Wednesday 4 March 2020