Coronavirus – everything you need to know

Washing hands with soap in a sink

You may have heard about the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and you might be wondering about the risk in the UK.

Although the risk to the public is moderate the risk to the individual is low, we’re here to answer any questions you may have and help you look after yourself and your family.

What is the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are commonly found throughout the world in different species of animals. In 2019, a new strain of the virus (COVID-19) was found in humans in Wuhan, China. Whilst not yet confirmed, it is thought that the virus was spread from an animal-to-person inside a large seafood and animal market.

Do I need to worry about catching coronavirus?

The UK government have also issued guidance on the risk to the public as well as how you can protect yourself. However, the short answer is no. If you live outside of China, your risk of contracting coronavirus is low.

Those who are most at risk of catching the virus are:

  • People living or travelling around China (where most of the infections have been reported)
  • Friends and family of those infected
  • Health workers caring for COVID-19 patients in hospitals

As it’s a new illness, the exact nature of how it spreads from person-to-person isn’t fully understood, although similar viral infections are often spread through the droplets released when coughing and sneezing.

Coronavirus has flu-like symptoms including:

  • High temperature
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

If you have travelled to China, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or the Republic of Korea in the last 14 days or been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have any of these symptoms, you should contact NHS 111. You should not go to your pharmacy or Doctors’ surgery.

Similar to flu and other illnesses it is usually the elderly or those living with pre-existing conditions (such as cancer or diabetes) who could experience more serious symptoms.

What can I do to protect myself against respiratory viral infections?

To look after your health, we recommend you follow these simple steps to protect yourself and those around you against respiratory viral infections:

  • Washing your hands – be sure to wash your hands regularly throughout the day, especially after coughing, being on public transport or before/after handling food. For extra protection we recommend keeping the LloydsPharmacy instant hand cleanser, in your bag as it's an easy-to-carry hand gel that cleanses without the need for rinsing. There is also the larger Medex hand sanitiser which is ideal for keeping on your desk at work or easily accessible at home.
  • Throw tissues in the bin – when coughing or sneezing, it’s always best to cover your mouth with a tissue to stop bacteria-carrying droplets from spreading to those around you. It’s important to throw your tissues in the bin with a lid after each use.
  • Try to avoid close contact with people who appear unwell – it’s always nice to offer help to a poorly friend or colleague but try to do it from a distance to avoid the spread of germs.

If you’re still worried or have any more questions you can speak to a member of your healthcare team for more advice, find your local store now.

We also recommend visiting the coronavirus page on the NHS website for more information.

Products to help you avoid spreading germs