A series of drawings showing how to wash your hands effectively to help stop the spread of coronavirus.


With coronavirus making headlines around the world, here are some useful facts to keep yourself safe and healthy.

What is coronavirus?

Coronavirus, now also called Covid-19, affects the respiratory system causing coughing and fever. Symptoms can be very mild, such as a minor cough, or you can have flu-like symptoms. This can progress to pneumonia with shortness of breath and breathing problems.

The outbreak started in Wuhan, China and coronavirus has not been seen in humans before.

How do you know if you have coronavirus?

Having a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath does not necessarily mean you have coronavirus.

Many other much more common illnesses, such as colds and flu, have similar symptoms.

If you think you’ve been exposed and experience symptoms, you should contact NHS online 111 and follow their advice.

Who is at risk of the most severe symptoms from coronavirus?

Symptoms of coronavirus may be worse in people who are older or already have a weakened immune system. Those living with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cancer and lung diseases may also be more likely to get serious symptoms from coronavirus.

Most of the people who have had very severe cases of coronavirus so far are men aged 60 and older with pre-existing health conditions.

What is the best way to protect yourself from coronavirus?

  • Frequently clean your hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available.
  • When coughing and sneezing cover your mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with sick people with symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
  • When feeling sick, stay at home, avoid contact with others except for seeking medical care and contact NHS 111 to tell them about your symptoms.

How do you know if you have coronavirus?

The only way to find out if you have coronavirus is to have a laboratory test. The first step is to contact NHS 111, who can tell you where and how to get a test near you, and give you other advice on how to treat your symptoms.

The UK has medical tests available to diagnose coronavirus.

Is coronavirus an emergency?

The World Health Organisation declared the coronavirus outbreak a global health emergency. China is at very high risk and some other countries are at high risk.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is supporting people in China and other countries. This includes bringing in specialist staff and protective equipment where needed.

How many cases of coronavirus will there be?

It is hard to predict the future of this outbreak. We recommend following and contacting NHS 111 if you are concerned. If you do get coronovirus, stay at home and follow advice from your doctor and the NHS.

This will help identify possible new cases and ensure that people who have become ill can get treatment.

Is the Red Cross helping with coronavirus overseas?

The British Red Cross is part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is supporting Red Cross National Societies in other affected countries.

Through this global Movement, we will help countries with weaker health care systems to deal with coronavirus patients and keep the outbreak in check.



Photo © Amara Eno/British Red Cross