Knowledge Base

We strongly believe that education is a key part of our responsibility. That's why we've written honest, clear and unbiased info on COVID-19, testing and how to stay safe.

COVID-19: what you need to know

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease. SARS-CoV-2 is a new type of coronavirus that can cause a disease called COVID-19. Because it's a virus, medications like antibiotics don’t work and we don't currently have an effective treatment or vaccine for this virus.

Spread

Coronavirus is mainly spread by respiratory droplets - small drops formed when we speak, cough or sneeze. The weight of these droplets means they usually can’t travel further than about 2 meters. This is one of the main reasons government advice has focussed on staying 2 meters away from other people. You can be infected with coronavirus if these droplets come into contact with your eyes, nose or mouth.

Some studies have shown that genetic material from coronavirus can be found on surfaces such as door handles and light switches4, 5. This may mean that the virus can be spread by touching an infected surface. It is best to clean surfaces, avoid touching your face and to regularly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in line with government advice.

COVID-19 Symptoms

After exposure to coronavirus, symptoms usually develop within 4-5 days but it can take up to 14 days. This is the reason why household members are currently advised to self-isolate for 14 days if someone in the household develops symptoms6, 7.

The majority of people infected with coronavirus develop very mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all.

Common symptoms:

  • Persistent cough
  • Fever
  • Loss or change in smell / taste
  • Muscle aches
  • Shortness of breath

Other potential symptoms:

  • Sore throat
  • Tiredness
  • Skin rashes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea and vomiting
  • Chest and abdominal pain
  • Headaches, tiredness and confusion

The NHS have an online symptom checker app you can use if you think you might have COVID-19.