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Coronavirus FAQs

Q. What is a coronavirus?

A. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which can cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases.

Q. What is COVID-19?

A. COVID-19 is the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus, the first outbreak beginning in Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019.

Q. What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don't develop any symptoms and don't feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Some, however, become seriously ill and develop breathing problems.

Q. What should I do if am feeling unwell and think I might have coronavirus?

A. The first thing to do is to visit the NHS website:

Use the online questionnaire to find out what to do next:

Q. How does COVID-19 spread?

A. The disease is thought to be spread person-to-person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are released when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. The main way the disease spreads is through respiratory droplets expelled by someone who is coughing.

Q. What can I do to protect myself and prevent the spread of the disease?

A. The guidance is clear:

  • Avoid close contact with everyone you meet (stay at least 2 metres away)
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water (20 seconds recommended)
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth

See also:

Q. How likely am I to catch COVID-19?

A. The pandemic is escalating rapidly. Everyone is at risk. The best way to minimise the risk is to self-isolate and avoid unnecessary contact with people.

Q. Who is at risk of developing severe illness?

A. It is thought that older people and individuals with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes) are most at risk.

Q. How dangerous is coronavirus for people who have asthma?

A. The government says some people with severe asthma could be "extremely vulnerable" to the virus. That's because when people with asthma get respiratory infections, such as coronavirus, it can set off their asthma symptoms. The guidance is to have your inhaler with you at all times and to seek medical advice if you are worried.

Q. Should I wear a mask to protect myself?

A. The World Health Organisation guidance is to wear a mask only if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or if you are looking after someone who may have the disease.

Q. How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

A. The current belief is that the virus may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

Q. Can I catch coronavirus from my dog?

A. No. The general consensus among the scientific community is that this is not possible. The data shows it is not spreading to pets. See:

Q. Where can I find up to date information on the number of cases?

A. This website provided comprehensive data, updated daily:

To see a map of cases, go to: