COVID disease is an infection caused by a coronavirus.
There are many types of coronavirus. Some affect the throat and the lungs. Illnesses from viruses range from the common cold and flu-like illnesses, to more severe diseases such as severe flu and pneumonia.
Pneumonia is also commonly caused by bacteria. Antibiotics only treat pneumonia caused by bacteria. Usual antibiotics do not treat coronavirus. You may have been given antibiotics if you were very unwell in case there was also a bacterial infection.
The virus causing COVID is new and was first recognised in China in December 2019.
The full name of the virus is SARS-CoV-2. SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. It spreads easily between humans by droplets in the air caused by coughing and sneezing.
Some people have had very severe disease. However, others may not be aware they have had it. Scientists are trying to work out why it affects people so differently.
- 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.
If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus you must:
- Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
- Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.
Anyone you live with, and anyone in your support bubble, must also stay at home until you get your result.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if you are worried about your symptoms or you are not sure what to do.
Call 111 if you cannot get help online. Do not go to places like a GP surgery, hospital or pharmacy.
For more information on coronavirus please check the following websites:
NHS COVID-19 app – this app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in.
Your COVID recovery – this website helps you to understand what has happened and what you might expect as part of your recovery