Symptoms of coronavirus
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), get a test as soon as possible. Stay at home until you get the result.
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
- a 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)
- a 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
Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms.
What to do if you have symptoms
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus:
- Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
- You and anyone you live with should stay at home and not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone in your support bubble should also stay at home if you have been in close contact with them since your symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started.
When to self-isolate and what to do
What is self-isolation?
Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19).
This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.
Self-isolation is different to:
- social distancing – general advice for everyone to avoid close contact with other people
- shielding – advice for people at high risk from coronavirus
It’s a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. You could be fined if you do not self-isolate.
When to self-isolate
Self-isolate immediately if:
- you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
- you’ve tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
- someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
- someone in your support bubble has symptoms and you’ve been in close contact with them since their symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started
- someone in your support bubble tested positive and you’ve been in close contact with them since they had the test or in the 48 hours before their test
- you’ve been told you’ve been in contact with someone who tested positive – find out what to do if you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app
- you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk – see GOV.UK: how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK
What is a support bubble?Information:
If you think you’ve been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, but you do not have symptoms and have not been told to self-isolate, continue to follow social distancing advice.
How to self-isolate
You must not leave your home if you’re self-isolating.
- do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can
- do not go on public transport or use taxis
- do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home
- do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care
- do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one
When to get a test
Get a test as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.
The symptoms are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
The test needs to be done in the first 8 days of having symptoms.
You do not need to get a test if you have no symptoms or if you have different symptoms.Get a test to check if you have coronavirus on GOV.UK
Tell people you’ve been in close contact with that you have symptoms
You may want to tell people you’ve been in close contact with in the past 48 hours that you might have coronavirus.What does close contact mean?
They do not need to self-isolate unless they’re contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service. But they should take extra care to follow social distancing advice, including washing their hands often.
If they get any coronavirus symptoms, they must self-isolate and get a test as soon as possible.
How long to self-isolate
You should self-isolate for at least 10 days.
You may need to self-isolate for more than 10 days if you get symptoms while self-isolating or your symptoms do not go away.
Read more about how long to self-isolate.Information:
Help and support while you’re staying at home
While you’re self-isolating:
- you can get help with everyday tasks, like collecting shopping or medicines, from an NHS volunteer
- you might be able to get sick pay or other types of financial support if you’re not able to work
Find out about help and financial support while you’re self-isolating.
Long-term effects of coronavirus (long COVID)
For some people, coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or “long COVID”.
About long COVID
How long it takes to recover from coronavirus is different for everybody.
Many people feel better in a few days or weeks and most will make a full recovery within 12 weeks. But for some people, symptoms can last longer.
The chances of having long-term symptoms does not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get coronavirus.
People who had mild symptoms at first can still have long-term problems.
Symptoms of long COVID
There are lots of symptoms you can have after a coronavirus infection.
Common long COVID symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
Non-urgent advice:Contact a GP if:
- you’re worried about symptoms 4 weeks or more after having coronavirus
Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP
It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:
- visit their website
- use the NHS App
- call them
What happens at your appointment
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and the impact they’re having on your life.
They may suggest some tests to find out more about your symptoms and rule out other things that could be causing them.
These might include:
- blood tests
- checking your blood pressure and heart rate
- a chest X-ray
Treatment and support
Your doctor will talk to you about the care and support you might need.
You may be given advice about how to manage and monitor your symptoms at home.
If the symptoms are having a big impact on your life, you may be referred to a specialist rehabilitation service or a service that specialises in the specific symptoms you have.
These services can help manage your symptoms and help you recover.Information:
You can find more information to support your recovery on the Your COVID Recovery website.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine
The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine is safe and effective. It gives you the best protection against coronavirus.
Who can get the COVID-19 vaccine
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.
The vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs.
It’s being given to:
- some people aged 80 and over who already have a hospital appointment in the next few weeks
- people who live or work in care homes
- health care workers at high risk
You will also need to be registered with a GP surgery in England. You can register with a GP if you do not have one.
The vaccine will be offered more widely, and at other locations, as soon as possible.
The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Wait to be contacted
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.
Advice if you’re of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding
There’s no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. But more evidence is needed before you can be routinely offered the vaccine.
The JCVI has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you’re:
- pregnant and at high risk of serious complications of coronavirus
- if you’re breastfeeding
Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine with you.
You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.
How the COVID-19 vaccine is given
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm.
It’s given as 2 doses.
When the 2nd dose will be given
The latest evidence suggests the 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine provides protection for most people for up to 3 months.
As a result of this evidence, when you can have the 2nd dose has changed. This is also to make sure as many people can have the vaccine as possible.
The 2nd dose was previously 21 days after having the 1st dose, but has now changed to 12 weeks after. If you:
- have already had your 1st dose and are due to have your 2nd dose before Monday 4 January, keep your appointment
- have already had your 1st dose and are due to have your 2nd dose after Monday 4 January, the NHS will contact you about when you’ll have your 2nd dose
- are due to have your 1st dose after Wednesday 30 December, you’ll be given your 2nd dose 12 weeks later
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccines approved for use in the UK have been developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca.
They have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
So far, thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine will give you some protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the 2 doses of the vaccine to give you the best protection.
There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine.
This means it is important to:
- continue to follow social distancing guidance
- if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it’s hard to stay away from other people
Read more about why vaccines are safe and important, including how they work and what they contain.
COVID-19 vaccine side effects
Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:
- a sore arm where the needle went in
- feeling tired
- a headache
- feeling achy
You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.
If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.
If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
Tell staff before you are vaccinated if you have ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
You should not have the vaccine if you’ve ever had a serious allergic reaction to a previous vaccine.
If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.Information:
You can report any suspected side effect using the Yellow Card safety scheme.
COVID-19 vaccine ingredients
The 2 approved COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any animal products or egg.