HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE COVID-19?
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- A fever (temperature of more than 37.8’C). If you do not have a thermometer, you can tell that you or a member of your family have a fever if you feel hot to the touch on your chest or back, and you may feel warm, cold or shivery.
- A new continuous dry cough. This is where you have a new cough that’s lasted for an hour, have had three or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours OR are coughing more than usual.
- A loss or change in taste and/or smell.
Other symptoms which also appear to be associated with COVID-19 infection include fatigue, aches & pains, sore throat, nausea, diarrhoea or a runny nose. These symptoms are far less common, and will likely be accompanied by the main symptoms above.
Routine testing is not currently being carried out in the general population with mild symptoms. If you are hospitalised then you will be tested, and some key workers or their household contacts will also be tested if they or a member of their household have symptoms. This is to allow key workers back to work earlier if the test is negative, instead of the key worker having to self-isolate unnecessarily.
WHAT DO I DO IF I, OR SOMEONE AT HOME, HAVE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19?
The person with symptoms MUST self-isolate for 7 days if they live alone. They can return to work and their usual activities on the 8th day if they feel better and no longer have a high temperature. A cough may persist for several weeks in some people, even though the coronavirus infection has cleared. You don’t need to continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days if you have a persistent cough with no other symptoms.
If you live with others, then all the OTHER household members must self-isolate for 14 days. People they have been in close contact with (such as those living in the same household) may pick up the virus but not show any symptoms for up to 14 days. This is based on the evidence that the symptomatic person is likely not to be infectious after 7 days from onset of symptoms and that if a household member becomes infected it could be a number of days, but up to another 7 days to show symptoms (average 5 days). So entire households are asked to isolate for 14 days so that they are sure they are not going to get ill and pass the illness on to others in the community.
If one of the other household members then develops symptoms during the 14-day period, they must self-isolate for 7 days from the day THEY THEMSELVES develop symptoms, even if that takes them beyond the original 14-day isolation period.
You can spread the infection in the days BEFORE you have symptoms, evidence suggested for 1-2 days before onset of symptoms.
You can manage your symptoms with normal over-the-counter products such as paracetamol or ibuprofen if these are suitable for you. No-one from your household should visit the pharmacy though. Please ask someone else, from a household with no symptoms to collect them for you. We now have a click and collect service to help you with this.
HOW CAN I AVOID CATCHING COVID-19?
To reduce your risk of catching or spreading COVID-19, follow the current advice and STAY AT HOME as much as possible, only leaving your house for the essential reasons stated in the government guidelines. This applies to everyone in the household. If anyone in the household is in a shielding or vulnerable group, they should follow the up to date advice for them on the NHS Inform and Scottish Government websites.
Everyone needs to follow hygiene and social distancing advice too. This is because when someone coughs or sneezes, they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain viruses. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus if the person coughing has COVID-19. Likewise, if you have the virus, you could infect someone else, even in the days before your symptoms start to show, and you may not know that you have COVID-19 yet.
- Avoid direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Maintain good hand hygiene using the correct technique. If you cannot wash your hands with soap and water, then use an alcohol hand gel with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover your mouth or nose with a disposable tissue if you cough or sneeze, and throw the tissue into the nearest waste bin straight away.
- Wipe down all surfaces at home regularly with a suitable cleaning agent, such as diluted bleach. You can’t catch coronavirus from food, but you can if you touch an infected surface then touch your mouth, nose or eyes.
- Ensure you, and the other members of your household, practice social distancing when you do leave your home for essential reasons. Keep at least 2 metres away from anyone not in your household. Be particularly careful about your hand hygiene if you’re out and about.
The guidance is evolving as we learn more about the virus. For the most up to date information, check NHS Inform at www.nhsinform.gov and the Scottish Government website https://www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19/