What is the coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The current outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is an illness caused by a new strain of the virus. Other types of coronavirus can cause common colds, but COVID-19 causes fever and coughing. As it can affect your lungs and airways, complications can develop for some people with underlying conditions.

What are the symptoms?

If you have either of the following symptoms, you should not leave your home.

  • 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)

The NHS has further advice on symptoms.

Where can I find the latest information about COVID-19?

The Government website has the most up-to-date information on the coronavirus, including current restrictions to try and limit its spread. They’ve also recently published advice on what you can and can’t do during the outbreak. The NHS has advice for everyone, including the signs and symptoms and what to do if you think you’ve got the virus.

If you live in Northern Ireland, you can find information from the Public Health Agency and NI Direct. For people living in Wales, Public Health Wales has also published further information.

What is social-distancing?

Following Government recommendations, all UK households are being told to stay at home. You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

Make sure you wash your hands as soon as you get in.

What if I am a key worker and have to work?

The Government has advice for key workers and those who cannot work from home. You can find that information here.

Am I at risk?

The Government is advising those who are at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus to be particularly stringent in observing social distancing measures. You may be at an increased risk from coronavirus if you:

  • are 70 or older
  • are pregnant
  • have a condition that may increase your risk from coronavirus.

If you or someone you care about is vulnerable, you can register for Government support.

I’m worried about my employment

Due to the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK, the Government is offering a range of help related to employment, self-employment and possible loss of income. This may include claiming Statutory Sick Pay, Universal Credit or employers receiving Government assistance to ensure a proportion of your salary.

For guidance, see the following websites: GOV.UK or ACAS

Can the Charity still support me?

Yes, we are still open, but our services are being affected by the virus. You can find more exactly about what support we can offer here.

I’m worried about my children’s mental health

The Government has produced some guidance for parents and carers on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people during the outbreak. You can find it here.

Do you have any recommendations for healthcare apps?

We have been working with Orcha, the World’s leading health app evaluation and adviser organisation, to provide our beneficiaries with access to a library of reviewed and evaluated health and wellbeing apps.

Are there any apps to support vulnerable people?

People who may be particularly vulnerable or isolated during the coronavirus outbreak, including new parents, the homeless, unpaid carers, young people and cancer patients, could soon benefit from a range of innovative digital solutions selected through a government scheme. Find out more here.

I’m worried about my finances

The Charity’s Welfare team may well be able to help you. Give us a ring on 0800 389 8820 or have a read about the ways we’re supporting people.

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has some advice for financial help and knowing your rights during the coronavirus.

I’m dealing with more deaths at work

The government has produced guidance for people involved with managing COVID-19 deaths, which you can read here.