Coronavirus illustration

About the virus

Information about the virus

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus. The incubation period of COVID-19 is between 2 and 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, it is unlikely that they have been infected.

Symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
  • 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).
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

However, if you have these symptoms it does not necessarily mean you have the illness. The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.

How it is spread and preventing the spread of infection

The spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres) with an infected person. These are some of the things you can do to help stop viruses like coronavirus spreading:

DO

  • 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.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.

DON'T

  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Please also see our Coronavirus latest updatesStay alert guidance and Further information and FAQs webpages.