This site is intended for health professionals only

Mildly sick people should stay home as coronavirus public risk set to ‘high’

Anyone with a fever or a new cough should self-isolate for seven days to slow the spread of coronavirus, the Government has said.

This was the key message in a press conference hosted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this evening, during which he stopped short of advising any home working; school closures or bans on mass gatherings at this stage.

However, Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon said there should be a ban on sporting events and mass gatherings of over 500 people from next week. 

The Government has also updated the risk level to the UK public from moderate to high, as 590 people have been diagnosed and 10 people have died.

But the real number of cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the UK is likely between 5,000-10,000, the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said. 

He said: ‘Currently we are on a trajectory which looks as though we are four weeks or so behind Italy and some other countries in Europe…’

‘There are currently 590 cases that have been identified in the UK and there are more than 20 patients on intensive care units.

‘If you calculate what that really means, in terms of the total number, it is much more likely that we have got somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 people infected at the moment.’

As the UK moves from a ‘contain’ to a ‘delay’ face for the spread of the virus, Mr Johnson said there would be ‘more to say shortly’ about the ‘timing of further action’.

He added: ‘At all stages, we have been guided by the science, and we will do the right thing at the right time.’

Regarding the new advice on mild symptoms, the Prime Minister said: ‘I urge people who think in view of what we’re saying about their potential symptoms that they should stay at home.

‘I urge them not to call 111 but to use the internet for information if they can.’

At the same press conference, chief medical officer for England Professor Chris Whitty said the NHS would now ‘pivot all the testing capacity to identifying people in hospital’ rather than mild cases in the community. 

Testing will also be irrespective of travel history, only based on symptoms and severity.

What to do if you have symptoms

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature of 37.8C or above
  • a new continuous cough

This will help to protect others in your community while you are infectious.

Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home.

The NHS will not be testing those self-isolating with mild symptoms.

Source: UK Government