Coronavirus (Covid-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It can easily be spread to others when an infected person is close to or is sharing an enclosed and/or poorly ventilated space with, other people.
The virus is spread through droplets that are released into the air when the infected individual breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes and others around them inhale these droplets. Alternatively, the particles can come in contact with people, when it lands on surfaces and is picked up and passed from person to person via touch.
Catching Covid-19 can be unpleasant. Some people may experience mild to moderate symptoms - it can also present similar symptoms to other respiratory infections.
Symptoms can vary from person to person and may include:
- a high temperature or shivering
- a new continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- shortness of breath
- feeling tired or exhausted
Symptoms are similar for children but may vary. Everyone is at risk of catching Covid-19, however for those who are most vulnerable catching the virus can lead to serious complications.
- older adults (aged 65 years and over)
- residents of nursing homes
- pregnant women
- people with certain serious health conditions
- those who are immunocompromised (weakened immune system)
How to treat
If a person feels unwell and suspects they may have Covid-19 try to stay at home and avoid, contact with other people for at least 5 days. For most people symptoms are mild and will recover within a few days.
Ways to help relieve symptoms include:
- getting plenty of rest
- drinking plenty of fluids
- regularly taking pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
The NHS offers treatments to people with Covid-19 who are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill. This consists of antiviral medicines that are used to help treat and manage Covid-19 symptoms and reduces the risk of them becoming seriously ill.
If a person is worried about their symptoms or are unsure what to do, they should contact their GP or NHS 111 for advice.
If symptoms become more severe (for example, struggling to breathe) or the symptoms of a child under the age of 5 get worse, 999 should be contacted.
Steps can be taken to prevent catching and passing on Covid-19 through good hygiene - this includes:
- regularly wash hands with soap and water, if there is no access to hand washing facilities look to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- avoiding touching eyes, mouth and nose
- using disposable tissues when coughing and sneezing and dispose of the tissue immediately afterwards
- maintaining some social distancing around others when unwell if possible
- using face coverings when in crowded spaces to protect yourself and others
- staying at home if you become unwell
- cleaning surfaces you use regularly
Testing for Covid-19 can be used to help prevent further spreading of the virus. The government has removed the remaining domestic restrictions for testing and there are no longer free test kits for most people.
However, some people can still get free Covid-19 rapid lateral flow tests from the NHS - this includes those who:
- are going into hospital
- have a health condition and are eligible for COVID-19 treatments
- work in healthcare or adult social care
If people want to get Covid-19 tests but are not eligible for free NHS tests, rapid lateral flow tests can be purchased from some pharmacies and retailers, in person or online.
Services such as 119, 111 and 999 no longer provide test kits.
COVID-19 vaccination is effective and the safest way to protect yourself from COVID-19.
COVID-19 vaccines are normally given seasonally, but some people with a severely weakened immune system may need additional protection at other times. This may be because of a health condition or medical treatment.
Your specialist or GP will assess if you or your child (aged 6 months or over) need a COVID-19 vaccine. They should let you know when to get vaccinated and help you find a local appointment. Speak to your specialist or GP practice for advice.
Some people at increased risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 may be able to get a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine later in 2024.
The NHS will contact you if your NHS record suggests you may be eligible for a seasonal COVID-19 vaccine.
For the latest advice on COVID-19 vaccinations visit the NHS website.
The local Public Health - Health Protection Team for North and West Northamptonshire work closely with UKHSA (UK Health Security Agency). They use routine surveillance programmes to monitor the spread of infectious diseases and provide support to prevent and control infection in establishments such as hospitals, care homes and schools.
As Covid-19 is a notifiable disease in England, it is important the health professionals inform East Midlands UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) of any cases for early identification and management of cases to prevent onward transmission of this disease.
Contact details for East Midlands UKHSA
These are not constantly monitored out of hours.
Most people will recover from Covid-19 within a few days or weeks from the onset of their symptoms and should be fully recovered within 12 weeks. However, for some people their symptoms can last longer. This is known as long Covid or post Covid syndrome.
Symptoms that are usually experienced and most common for people with long Covid include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- loss of smell
- muscle aches
Other symptoms of long Covid are:
- brain fog - problems with memory or concentration
- chest pain or tightness
- difficult sleeping
- heart palpitations
- joint pain
People worried about Covid-19 symptoms that have lasted longer than 4 weeks should speak to their GP, to discuss the symptoms and the impact on their life.
Recovery from long Covid varies from person to person. Testing may be suggested to help rule out other causes. If symptoms are having a great impact on a person’s life, there are referral routes to specialist and rehabilitation services that can support people to manage symptoms and help them recover.
- COVID-19 response: living with COVID-19 - GOV.UK
- Long-term effects of coronavirus (long COVID) - NHS
- Notifications of infectious diseases (NOIDs)
Last updated 01 February 2024