Coronavirus: An introduction

Updated 17th September 2020. For the latest medical advice, visit

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. The approach of the government, supported by opposition parties, is guided by the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Officer, Sir Patrick Vallance, and many other medical experts; their task is not easy, but as your local MP, I am 100% supportive. The UK's response is not reactionary, it is based on clinical, scientific, and medical evidence. This section of the website sets out both the health advice and other efforts to help support businesses and our public services. 

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible to safeguard livelihoods in a way that is safe and continues to protect the NHS. To achieve, this we all need to play our part. 

This guidance is for the general public who are fit and well. If you or anybody in your household has symptoms of coronavirus, you all need to self-isolate. 

If you are clinically vulnerable, you are at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. You should continue shielding measures to keep yourself safe by staying at home and avoiding all contact with others, except for essential medical treatment or support. Click here to find out more. 

Stay alert, control the virus, save lives. 

We can control the virus if we stay alert. Because of a recent spike in Coronavirus cases across the North East, new restrictions are now in place in Northumberland. That means: 

  • You cannot socialise with others you do not live with, including close friends and family. Exemptions to this rule do apply if you are providing care or assistance to a vulnerable person. If you live alone and are in a support bubble, you can continue to visit your support bubble by staying overnight in each other's houses and visiting public places together. 
  • Pubs and restaurants will be limited to table service only, and leisure and hospitality must close between 10pm and 5am. 
  • Restrictions are being introduced on non-essential visits to care homes.
  • In schools, pupils in Year 7 and above, and staff, must wear face coverings when in corridors and moving around communal areas. 

About Coronavirus

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are the recent onset of:

  • new continuous cough and/or
  • high temperature
  • anosmia (the loss or change in your normal sense of taste or smell)

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.

Self Isolating

  • If you live alone and have symptoms of coronavirus, however, mild, you must stay at home for 10 days from when your symptoms first began. 
  • after 10 days, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to continue to self-isolate. If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal. You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 10 days, as a cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone
  • if you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), then you must stay at home for 10 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. 
  • for anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 10 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period. The ending isolation section below has more information, and see the explanatory diagram
  • staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
  • if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
  • reduce the spread of infection in your home: wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser; cover coughs and sneezes
  • if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms:
    • do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
    • you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
    • testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) is not needed if you’re staying at home
  • if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 10 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus (COVID-19) service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999
  • if you develop new coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms at any point after ending your first period of isolation (self or household) then you need to follow the same guidance on self-isolation again