Coronavirus – how you can help yourself and the NHS (23 March 2020)

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus. This update provides you with information on what you can do to look after yourself, your family, your community and the NHS. Please share it with your family, friends and community.

  1. Keep yourself up-to-date with the latest information

Visit for the latest information, including guidance on what to do if you have symptoms of coronavirus, advice on staying at home and what you can do to avoid catching and spreading the virus.

More information for people with existing health conditions is available from support organisations, such as: cystic fibrosis, asthma, diabetes, cancer and multiple sclerosis.

  • Use the NHS App to order repeat prescriptions

Owned and run by the National Health Service, the NHS App is the simple and secure way to access a range of NHS services on your smartphone or tablet. Right now you can help the NHS by downloading the app and using it to order repeat prescriptions – it’s easy to do.

Download the NHS App on Apple’s App Store or get it on Google Play.

  • Let your GP practice help you safely  

Routine non-urgent services in the NHS could well come under pressure as a result of the coronavirus, and so the NHS is preparing a number of practical solutions to effectively respond to this outbreak.

If you have an appointment booked at your GP practice, or if you book one online, then they may call you to make sure that you see the right person in the right place for your illness. Your GP practice may encourage you to make use of more telephone and online appointments. Each practice will come up with slightly different arrangements depending on local needs and circumstances.

This is not something to be concerned about, but is being done as a precaution to help protect patients, staff and the public. You can help by following the advice of your GP practice.

  • Visit your hospital’s website if you have an appointment or want to visit someone

Our hospitals are also making changes to how they care for people, this includes having more appointments over the phone and by using video calling, as well as changing how and when people can visit patients. These changes are being made to protect patients, staff and the public.

Visit your hospital’s website if you have questions about your appointments, procedures or visiting the hospital. Alternatively, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn has set-up dedicated phone lines for people to call:

The number for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital phone line is 01553 214545.

  • Use the online 111 coronavirus service

It is really important that people use the online 111 coronavirus service if they can – people should only call 111 if they cannot get help online.

People should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • they feel they cannot cope with their symptoms at home
  • their condition gets worse
  • their symptoms do not get better after 7 days
  • Keep active and well

If you’re stuck at home because of coronavirus, or your normal activity has been cancelled, it’s still important to stay as active as you can. Even a small amount of activity will have a positive impact on your physical and mental health, and there’s plenty you can do at home – visit Active Norfolk and One Life Suffolk for some ideas to keep you moving.

It’s important to take care of your mind as well as your body. There are lots of tips and advice on the Every Mind Matters website about things you can do to help you keep on top of your mental wellbeing and cope with how you may feel while staying at home. Make sure you get further support if you feel you need it.

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust will also be updating their website every Wednesday at midday with new information, resources and materials. They’re active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (#NSFTjoinin) too.

  • Look after each other

The most immediate form of help you can provide to your community during this time is to look out for vulnerable neighbours. If you want to support a neighbour who is self-isolating, you can use one of these postcards to tell them that you’re available. Information about helping others and staying safe if someone offers you help can be found on the Norfolk County Council website.


  1. Overview
  2. Stay at home advice

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.

These pages are for the public. There is coronavirus information for health professionals on the NHS England website.

Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly

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

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

Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.

Read our advice about staying at home.

Urgent advice:Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

Use the 111 coronavirus service

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

How coronavirus is spread

Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus


  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell


  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

Travel advice

There are some countries and areas where there’s a higher chance of coming into contact with someone with coronavirus.

If you’re planning to travel abroad and are concerned about coronavirus, see advice for travellers on GOV.UK.

Treatment for coronavirus

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.

Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.

Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.

You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.

Government response and action plan

Page last reviewed: 13 March 2020
Next review due: 16 March 2020