What to do if you think you might have COVID-19
Updated: 6 April 2022
You are no longer legally required in England to self-isolate if you have COVID-19, but you should still try to stay at home for at least five full days and avoid others if you have any of the following symptoms:
a high temperature - this means you feel hot to the 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 three or more coughing episodes within 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
loss of smell or taste
Please see a complete list of recognised COVID-19 symptoms for adults and children here.
Try to self-isolate for at least five days if you have symptoms of COVID-19.
Avoid being around people who are especially vulnerable for at least 10 days, even if they've been vaccinated against COVID-19.
You can still get the virus - and transmit it - after being vaccinated, although symptoms should be less severe and your ability to transmit the virus should lessen.
Find out more about what you can do to keep yourself and others safe if you believe you may have COVID-19 here.
Testing for COVID-19
As of 1 April 2022, the general population can no longer get free COVID-19 tests in England. You can continue to buy lateral flow tests from pharmacies, supermarkets and online.
In some situations where a person is at a high-risk of getting COVID-19, free testing is still available. Find out if you qualify here.
Vaccinations for COVID-19
The COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and others. The vaccines are most effective when you get at least two doses and, for many people, additional booster doses.
The NHS says the benefits of the vaccination outweighs any risk and everyone should attend their appointment.
Go to our full-length guide to find out why vaccinating yourself against COVID-19 is important, how you can get vaccinated in Lewisham and more.
Post-COVID-19 syndrome or "Long COVID-19"
While recovery from COVID-19 looks different for everyone, most people will make a full recovery within 12 weeks.
However, some people may have symptoms for weeks or months after the infection has gone, even if your symptoms have been mild.
If you're worried about symptoms four weeks or more after having COVID-19, contact your GP by going to your GP's website, using the NHS app, or calling your GP's office.
Common long COVID-19 symptoms include:
- extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- shortness of breath
- chest pain or tightness
- problems with memory and concentration ("brain fog")
- difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
- heart palpitations
- pins and needles
- joint pain
- depression and anxiety
- tinnitus, earaches
- feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
- a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
Find out more about what your appointment and the treatment you receive for long COVID-19 may look like here.
When you should contact the NHS 111 online COVID-19 service
You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you are staying home or to report a positive COVID-19 test.
Visit 111 online to find out:
- where to get help for your symptoms, if you're not sure what to do
- how to find general health information and advice
- where to get an emergency supply of your prescribed medicine
- how to get a repeat prescription
There are delays in the 111 callback service that may make it difficult for you to speak with someone on the phone in a timely manner. To find out more about the callback service and what you can expect, click here
Tips to help you cope with anxiety about getting "back to normal"
As England removes restrictions and we are allowed to get back out to see the people and things we care about, you may be feeling conflicted about this process.
It's OK if going "back to normal" has been challenging for you, and it's normal to have some anxiety when things change - even when the change is positive.
Get tips to manage your anxiety about the removal of restrictions here.
Staying well while self-isolating
If you choose to stay at home because of COVID-19, it's important to take care of your mind as well as your body.
Find out how you can prepare for your time at home, stay connected, get good sleep, stay on top of difficult feelings and more with this guide from Better Health and the NHS.
Data on COVID-19 in the UK
Click here to get up-to-date information on the status of COVID-19 in the UK, including vaccinations, positive tests, deaths, patients admitted because of COVID-19 and more.
NHS COVID-19 test and trace mobile phone app
The NHS COVID-19 app provides:
- up-to-date advice about self-isolating and testing,
- information about the risk level in your area,
- alerts if you have been near another app user that has tested positive.
Download the app now
Click here to watch a video with British Sign Language (BSL) explaining the app.
Click here for additional, easy-to-read guides for the COVID-19 app and more from Mencap.
Click here for guidance for the COVID-19 app created by Healthwatch England.
Information in accessible formats
Understanding coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Beyond Words is providing free picture stories and illustrated guides to support people with learning disabilities and autism through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Easy to understand guide to going for a virus test.
- Photosymbols offers free, easy-read coronavirus posters.
- Down’s Syndrome Association provides support and information for individuals and families. Click here to visit the COVID-19 hub.
Keeping busy during self-isolation
- Mencap have created easy-read information on COVID-19.
Guidance in other languages
The complete list of languages represented:
Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cantonese, Czech, Dari, Dutch, English, Estonian, Farsi, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hausa, Hindi, Hungarian, Igbo, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kiswahili, Korean, Krio, Kurdish Sorani, Kurmanji, Latvian, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Nepali, Oromo, Pahari, Pashto, Pidgin, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Romany, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Sindhi, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Tamil, Tetum, Tigrinya, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Twi, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, Wolof, Yiddish, Yorùbá.
British Sign Language (BSL)
Find out how you can communicate in BSL when you get tested for COVID-19 with Signhealth.
Access the NHS 111 online services and connect with a BSL interpreter.
For people with aphasia
Get aphasia-friendly information and resources with Speakeasy.