What should I do if I develop symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature above 37.8 C and/or new and continuous cough), phone 111. Do this as soon as you get symptoms.
If you’re seriously ill, or in an emergency, phone 999 for an ambulance. Tell the call handler if you or someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19. Don’t visit the GP, pharmacy, out of hours centre or hospital.
If you need to go to hospital as a result of catching coronavirus, you should prepare a single hospital bag. This should include:
- your emergency contact
- a list of the medications you take, including dose and frequency)
- any information on your planned care appointments
- things you would need for an overnight stay such as snacks, pyjamas, toothbrush and medication
- your advanced care plan, if you have one
What should you do if you have hospital and GP appointments during this period?
You should access medical assistance remotely (not face-to-face), wherever possible.
If you have a scheduled hospital or medical appointment during this time, talk to your GP or clinician to ensure you continue to receive the care you need. Consider whether appointments can be postponed.
What’s the advice for visitors, including those who are providing care for me?
You should let your regular visitors know that you are reducing social contacts and they shouldn’t visit you during this time, unless they are providing essential care for you. Essential care includes things like help with washing, dressing, or preparing meals.
If you receive regular health or social care from an organisation, either through your local authority or paid for by yourself, inform your care providers that you are shielding and agree a plan for continuing your care.
If you receive essential care from friends or family members, speak to your carers about extra precautions they can take to keep you safe.
It’s also a good idea to speak to your carers about what happens if one of them becomes unwell. If you need help with care but you’re not sure who to contact, your local council should be able to help you.
What is the advice for informal carers who provide care for someone who is extremely vulnerable?
If you’re caring for someone who’s vulnerable, there are some simple steps that you can take to protect them. You should follow advice on good hygiene, such as:
- Wash your hands on arrival and often - use soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands
- Don’t visit if you’re unwell and make alternative arrangements for their care
- Provide them information on who they should call if they feel unwell (their GP phone number and 111) and how to use NHS inform
- Access advice on creating a contingency plan from Carers UK
- Find out about different sources of support that could be used
- Look after your own well-being and physical health
How do I look after my mental well-being?
Social isolation, reduction in physical activity, unpredictability and changes in routine can all contribute to increasing stress. Many people including those without existing mental health needs may feel anxious.
If you’re receiving services for your mental health, learning disability or autism and you’re worried about the impact of isolation, contact your keyworker, care coordinator or provider to review your care plan.
If you have additional needs please contact your key worker or care coordinator to develop a safety or crisis plan.
Constantly watching the news can make you feel more worried. If you think it’s affecting you, try to limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to media coverage of the outbreak. It may help to only check the news at set times or limiting this to a couple of times a day. Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behaviour, who you speak to and who you get information from.
You may find your mood and feelings are affected by shielding. You may feel bored, frustrated low or worried and have problems sleeping.
It can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour which in turn can make you feel worse.
There are simple things you can do that may help, to stay mentally and physically active during this time, such as:
- Exercise regularly - look for ideas of exercises you can do at home
- Spend time doing things you enjoy – this might include reading, cooking, other indoor hobbies or listening to/watching favourite radio or TV programmes
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Drink enough water
- Try to avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs
- Keep your windows open to let in fresh air
- Arrange a space to sit with a nice view, if possible
- Get some natural sunlight if you can or sit on your front step, staying more than 2 metres away from others
If you’re still struggling with your mental health and it’s affecting your daily life, you should phone 111.
What steps can I take to stay connected with family and friends during this time?
Try to stay in touch with those around you over the phone, by post, or online.
Let people know how you would like to stay in touch and build that into your routine. This is also important in looking after your mental wellbeing. You may find it helpful to talk to them about how you’re feeling.
Remember, it’s okay to share your concerns with others you trust. You may end up providing support to them too.
What is the advice for people living in long-term care facilities, either for the elderly or persons with special needs?
Care providers should carefully discuss shielding with the families, carers and specialist doctors caring for such people to ensure shielding measures are strictly followed.
What is the advice for parents and schools with extremely vulnerable children?
Shielding advice also applies to extremely vulnerable children in mainstream and special schools.