Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance

Find guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) for health professionals and other organisations.

The advice for anyone in any setting is to follow these main guidelines.

  1. The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of a new continuous cough or high temperature or a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia). If you have these symptoms, however mild, stay at home and do not leave your house for at least 7 days from when your symptoms started (if you live alone), or 14 days (if you live with someone who has symptoms). You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

  2. Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.

  3. To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue in a bin immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.

  4. Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

At the current time and based on our understanding of what is known of COVID-19 and other similar respiratory viruses, it is likely that older people and those with chronic medical conditions may be vulnerable to severe disease. As more information emerges, recommendations may change.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates and information in British Sign Language can be accessed on SignHealth’s website.

Guidance for the public

Guidance for non-clinical settings


Adult social care

Guidance for health professionals

Infection prevention and control

Sampling and diagnostics

Published 3 March 2020
Last updated 18 May 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on symptoms.

  2. Added link to SignHealth website.

  3. Added 'COVID-19: how to work safely in domiciliary care'.

  4. Added guidance for taking swab samples.

  5. Added COVID-19: guidance for managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic.

  6. Added 'How to work safely in care homes'.

  7. Added guidance for commissioners and providers of services for people who use drugs or alcohol.

  8. Added Coronavirus (COVID-19): admission and care of people in care homes.

  9. Added COVID-19: Guidance for stepdown of infection control precautions within hospitals and discharging COVID-19 patients from hospital to home settings

  10. Added guidance for care of the deceased.

  11. Added guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing, and guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

  12. Added guidance for food businesses.

  13. Added 'Guidance on shielding and protecting extremely vulnerable persons from COVID-19.'

  14. Added link to easy-read guide.

  15. Added advice for the freight transport industry.

  16. Added guidance for mass gatherings.

  17. Added COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people.

  18. Added guidance on 'Prisons and other prescribed places of detention', 'Services for people experiencing rough sleeping', and 'Shipping and sea ports'.

  19. Added COVID-19: guidance for healthcare providers who have diagnosed a case within their facility.

  20. Added COVID-19: residential care, supported living and home care guidance.

  21. Information on symptoms updated.

  22. Added COVID-19: guidance for sampling and for diagnostic laboratories.

  23. Added COVID-19: stay at home guidance.

  24. First published.