What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
The most common symptoms are:
- a new continuous cough
- a fever or high temperature (37.8C or greater)
- loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).
A new continuous cough is where you:
- have a new cough that’s lasted for an hour
- have had 3 or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours
- are coughing more than usual.
A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back (you don’t need to measure your temperature). You may feel warm, cold or shivery.
How can I protect myself and other people?
Anyone can spread coronavirus. To save lives, there are 5 important things to remember:
- wear a face covering on public transport and in shops and other places where distancing is difficult
- avoid crowded places
- clean hands and surfaces regularly (see ‘How do I ensure everything stays clean and hygienic?’ below)
- stay 2 metres away from other people (see ‘What is physical distancing?’ below)
- self-isolate and book a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms. (see 'When do I need to self-isolate' and ‘How do I get a coronavirus test?’ below).
In addition you should also download the Protect Scotland app. This free app from NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect is designed to help us protect each other and further reduce the spread of coronavirus. You can find out more about the Protect Scotland app here.
What is physical distancing?
When you’re out and about, it’s important to follow physical distancing and hygiene guidelines, to help prevent the virus spreading. Physical or social distancing means you should stay 2 metres away from anyone who isn’t part of your household or extended household (if you have one) – this is about the width of a car. You can find out more about physical distancing at the NHS Inform website.
Children under 12 don’t need to stay 2 metres away from other people. Our page on physical distancing for children has more information.
What is Test and Protect?
Test and Protect is Scotland's approach to preventing the spread of coronavirus in the community.
It will prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community by:
- identifying cases of coronavirus through testing
- tracing the people who may have become infected by spending time in close contact with them
- supporting those close contacts to self-isolate, so that if they have the virus they are less likely transmit it to others.
When do I need to self-isolate?
You should isolate if ANY of the following apply to you:
- You or anyone in your household has any of the symptoms of coronavirus. Everyone in the household should isolate until the symptomatic person/people has been tested and has received the results.
- You or anyone in your household has tested positive for coronavirus. The person with symptoms should continue to isolate for 10 days. Everyone else in the household should isolate for 14 days
- You are contacted by Test and Protect. If you are contacted by Test and Protect as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, you should isolate for 14 days. If you have any symptoms, you should get a test. However even if the results are negative, you must isolate for the full 14 days.
If you’re self-isolating, you shouldn’t leave your home at all. You can find out more about what to do when you’re self-isolating on the NHS Inform website.
Anyone who has travelled overseas must self-isolate for 14 days unless you’ve travelled from a country on the quarantine exemption list. This means staying in your accommodation, even if you don’t have symptoms, to help control coronavirus and to comply with the guidance. You can find out more on the Scottish Government website.
If we all follow these rules, however difficult, then fewer people will die of this virus than would otherwise be the case.
What should I do if I or someone else in my household develops coronavirus symptoms?
If you or anyone else in your household and extended household (if you have one) develops symptoms of coronavirus, that person must stay at home for 10 days, except to get tested (see ‘How do I get a coronavirus test?’ below). In addition, everyone else in the household must stay at home for 14 days.
If you need something ask someone out with your household to get it for you or have it delivered and left at your front door.
You can leave the house after 10 days if you're improving and you no longer have a temperature. If you still have a temperature, you shouldn’t leave the house until 48 hours after it has gone down. It's okay to leave the house after 10 days, even if you still have a cough.
If a household member develops coronavirus symptoms late in the 14-day household-isolation period (for example, on day 13 or day 14) the household isolation period does not need to be extended, but the person with the new symptoms has to stay at home for 10 days.
How do I get a coronavirus test?
If you have coronavirus symptoms, you should book a test online on the NHS Inform website. If you can’t book online, you can call 0800 028 2816. Anyone who has symptoms can be tested, including children. These tests can be completed through any of the existing testing routes including drive-in Regional Testing Centres, Mobile Testing Units and by ordering a home test kit. Our page on COVID-19 testing for children as more information.
Until you get the results of the test back, everyone in your household and extended household (if you have one) must isolate themselves.
- If the test is negative, everyone will be able to stop isolating (unless they have another reason to isolate, for example they have symptoms, have been identified as a close contact or are quarantining after travelling abroad – see ‘When do I need to self-isolate?’ above). Until then, however, you must all stay at home.
- If the test is positive, you must isolate yourself for 10 days and everyone in your household and extended household (if you have one) must isolate for 14 days. If you still have a fever after 10 days, you should isolate for 48 hours after the time the fever goes down.
You will also be put in touch with the local contact tracing team so that other close contacts can be identified. These close contacts, as well as everyone in your household, will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. The test and trace process is confidential, and your close contacts will not be told that it was you that they were in contact with.
It’s important that everyone remains in self-isolation for the full length of time they’re asked to.
What if I've been in close contact with someone with symptoms?
If the local contact tracing team gets in touch with you because you have been in close contact with someone with coronavirus, you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days. This is because if you have the virus, it may take up to 14 days for it to develop into an illness.
A close contact is someone you’ve had direct contact with at a distance of less than one metre, or have had contact with for longer than 15 minute within 2 metres.
If you have been identified by NHS contact tracers as having been in close contact with a person with coronavirus, you will not be told who it is you have been in contact with.
If you develop coronavirus symptoms, you must isolate yourself for 10 days and get tested.
If you do not have symptoms yourself and are self-isolating as a close contact of someone with coronavirus, other people in your own household and extended household (if you have one) will not be asked to isolate along with you – unless they have also been in close contact with a person who is a confirmed case, in which case they will be informed by the NHS.
You can find out more about contact tracing and self-isolation on the NHS Inform website.
Are people still being advised to shield?
People who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus were advised to shield, to minimise the chance of catching the virus. However, shielding was paused altogether from 1 August.
This means that people who were shielding can now follow the same rules as everyone else, provided they feel comfortable doing so. However, to stay safe, it’s important to strictly follow physical distancing and hygiene measures. You can find a guide to how safe different activities here, so you can make an informed decision. You can also get advice on how to stay safe doing different activities here. You can find out more about shielding at the gov.scot website.
Looking after yourself
This year has been tough and right now you're probably feeling pretty fed up by it all. So it’s all the more important to look after your family’s mental health at this difficult time. Whatever your situation, we have some useful advice here:
- Mental health advice for parents during coronavirus
- Mental health support for expectant parents
- Mental health support for new mums
- Supporting your child’s mental health during coronavirus
You can also find advice on the Mind website about coronavirus and your wellbeing.
I’m pregnant – what should I do?
We realise this is a worrying time to be pregnant. You can find further advice on our page about pregnancy and coronavirus and on the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website.
What if my partner or ex-partner and I both look after our children but live in separate homes?
If you and your partner live in separate homes but take turns to look after your children, you can continue to do this. Our page on shared parenting has more information.
The media is reporting that coronavirus may have a disproportionate impact on people from minority ethnic communities. Is this true, and what do I need to do?
There is some emerging evidence, largely from England and the US, that coronavirus may have an increased impact on these communities. If you or anyone in your family becomes unwell, you should seek medical advice by phoning NHS 111.