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NHS guidelines on what to do if you have Covid in 2023 – latest advice

Like many other countries, the UK has seen another rise in Covid cases in recent months.

Since the detection of the new Eris strain of coronavirus in July, and the Pirola variant in August, the number of positive cases recorded in the UK has steadily increased – although slightly stalled in the most recent weeks.

While lockdowns and mandatory isolation periods are a thing of the past, health bodies are still recommending certain measures in a bid to help control the spread.

Firstly it is important to be aware of the symptoms of Covid, so you can act accordingly.

The NHS advises that the infection can present in a similar way to flu or a cold, with symptoms such as a cough, sore throat and runny nose common.

However, you could also experience a fever, loss of taste or smell, fatigue, headache, breathlessness, diarrhoea and nausea.

According to the NHS, most people will make a “full recovery” within 12 weeks.

But for some the symptoms will persist – a condition known as long Covid.

If you experience any of these symptoms the NHS urges you to stay at home and “avoid contact with other people”.

“You can go back to your normal activities when you feel better or do not have a high temperature,” the NHS says.

While you are no longer required to take a lateral flow test when experiencing symptoms, they are still available to buy.

Certain people are eligible for free tests on the NHS, such as healthcare workers and those with certain health conditions.

If you do test positive (meaning two lines will appear on the test) the NHS offers the following advice.

It says: “Try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for three days after the day the test was taken if you or your child are under 18 years old – children and young people tend to be infectious to other people for less time than adults.

“Try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the day you took your test if you are 18 years old or over.

“Avoid meeting people who are more likely to get seriously ill from viruses, such as people with a weakened immune system, for 10 days after the day you took your test.”

There are certain instances in which you should call 111 or book an urgent GP appointment.

These are if:

  • You’re worried about your or a child’s COVID-19 symptoms or are not sure what to do
  • the symptoms are getting worse or are not getting better
  • You or a child have other signs of illness, such as a rash, loss of appetite, or feeling weak
  • You or a child have a high temperature that last 5 days or more or does not come down with paracetamol
  • A child under three months old and has a temperature of 38C or higher, or you think they have a high temperature
  • A child aged three to six months old and has a temperature of 39C or higher, or you think they have a high temperature.

But you should call 999 if you or your child:

  • Seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there’s something seriously wrong – children and babies in particular can get unwell very quickly
  • Get sudden chest pain
  • Are so breathless you’re unable to say short sentences when resting or your breathing has suddenly got worse – in babies their stomach may suck in under their ribs
  • Start coughing up blood
  • Collapse, faint, or have a seizure or fit for the first time
  • Have a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it, the same as meningitis.

Symptoms of the Pirola strain of Covid are thought to be similar to the Omicron variant, from which it is descended.

Common signs therefore include sneezing, sore throat, headache and a runny nose.



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