Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance

Find guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) for health and social care settings, other non-clinical settings, and for the general public.

The advice for everyone is to follow this guidance.

  1. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of a new continuous cough or a high temperature or a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

  2. If you develop these symptoms, however mild, or you have received a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test result, then you should immediately self-isolate stay at home for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. If you live with others, all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. See the stay at home guidance for further information.

  3. You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 10 days, then use the NHS 111 online service. If you have do not have internet access, you should call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999

  4. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you should arrange a test by visiting NHS.UK, or contact 119 via telephone if you do not have internet access.

  5. Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and water or hand sanitiser, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, before you eat or handle food, or when you get to work or arrive home

  6. Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have a tissue, sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand. Dispose of tissues into a disposable rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser.

  7. You must wear a face covering by law in some public places unless you have a face covering exemption because of your age, health or another condition. You are also strongly encouraged to wear a face covering in other enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet. Social distancing, hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes, remain the most important measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Face coverings do not replace these. See the staying safe outside your home guidance, and you can find guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.

  8. 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 so far, COVID-19 can make anyone seriously ill, but for some people the risk is higher. You can find more information on higher risk groups on NHS.UK. As more information emerges, recommendations may change.

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, testing and diagnostics

Published 3 March 2020
Last updated 3 February 2021 + show all updates
  1. Added 'SARS-CoV-2 VOC: investigating and managing individuals with a possible or confirmed case'.

  2. Added 'How to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)'.

  3. Added 'COVID-19: rapid point of care (near-person) testing for service providers'.

  4. Added 'COVID-19: investigation and management of travellers returning from Denmark and their household contacts'.

  5. Added 'COVID-19: reducing transmission - what you can do to help'.

  6. Updated to reflect changes to self-isolation period and face coverings regulations.

  7. Updated general guidance.

  8. Added guidance for contacts of people with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection who do not live with the person.

  9. Updated information on symptoms.

  10. Added link to SignHealth website.

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

  12. Added guidance for taking swab samples.

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

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

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

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

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

  18. Added guidance for care of the deceased.

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

  20. Added guidance for food businesses.

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

  22. Added link to easy-read guide.

  23. Added advice for the freight transport industry.

  24. Added guidance for mass gatherings.

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

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

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

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

  29. Information on symptoms updated.

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

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

  32. First published.