As we learn to live safely with COVID-19, we must remember that along with other respiratory infections, such as flu, it can spread easily and cause serious illness in some people.

You can catch one of these viruses and not have any symptoms but still pass it onto others.


There are actions you can take to help reduce the risk of catching Covid-19 and passing it on to others. They include:

  • get the vaccines you are eligible for
  • let fresh air in, especially when around people you do not live with
  • wash your hands regularly
  • cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough
  • wear a face covering in crowded or public places

GOV.UK has the latest guidance on living safely with respiratory infections, including Covid-19 and advice for employers on how to reduce the risk of workers catching respiratory infections at work.


If you develop symptoms and think you might have Covid you are no longer advised to take a test, but you can if you wish. Free testing ended for most people in England on 1 April 2022.

If you still want to get tested and you are not eligible for a free NHS test, you must pay for a COVID-19 test yourself.

You can buy rapid lateral flow tests from some pharmacies and retailers either in person or online.

Some people can still get a free Covid-19 rapid lateral flow test – find out who is eligible on the NHS website. They include those who:

  • work in a high-risk setting, such as the NHS or social care
  • are going into hospital
  • are at high risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19

Remember to dispose of any used test items safely. The testing strip, swab and extraction tube should be put inside the small plastic bag that comes with the pack and into your non-recyclable waste (black) bin.

If you test positive or have symptoms

To reduce the risk of you passing the infection on to others you are advised to stay at home and avoid other people for 5 days.

Avoid contact with people at higher risk of serious illness from Covid for 10 days.

The NHS continues to offer treatments to people with Covid-19 who are at highest risk of becoming seriously ill. Details of what they are, who can get them and how are on the NHS website.

You can also find advice in the NHS website on the extra steps you can take to stay safe if you or someone you know or care for is at higher risk of getting Covid-19.


The main symptoms of Covid-19 are listed in full on the NHS website. In adults they include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills)
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • feeling tired or exhausted

Local support

If you are self-isolating there are community support groups that can help you.

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