What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We explain what coronavirus (COVID-19) is, and what you should do if you have symptoms.

If you have any questions or worries about coronavirus and how this may affect you and your treatment, you can speak to our specialist nurses on our free Support Line.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a type of virus called a coronavirus. It is a virus that affects your lungs and can cause long term damage to other organs as well. Long term damage is called long COVID. It is very infectious, which means it can spread quickly from one person to another.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Common symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a change to or loss of your normal sense of taste or smell
  • fatigue (extreme tiredness).
  • blocked nose
  • sore throat
  • headache
  • muscle or joint pain
  • different types of skin rash
  • feeling and being sick
  • diarrhea (runny poo)
  • chills or dizziness.

Around 1 in 3 people with coronavirus do not have symptoms. But people with no symptoms can still infect others. So it is still very important to be careful.

Read more about the symptoms on the NHS and World Health Organisation websites.

What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, stay at home. Read more about this on the NHS, NHS Inform, Welsh government and nidirect websites.

Taking a test

Free tests are not available unless you have a health condition which means you can get treatments for coronavirus, or are going into hospital for some treatments. You can buy tests from pharmacies and shops.

If the test result is positive you should stay at home and stay away from others for 5 days. Although this is no longer a legal requirement, it is still recommended.

Where to find more information about coronavirus

There is a lot of information available from the NHS and government about coronavirus.

Updated: September 2023