We are now in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and, although the UK is not currently testing outside of the hospital environment, it is very likely that many people in the community have had COVID-19 infections.


A fever or new, continuous cough (coughing a lot for more than an hour or three or more coughing episodes per 24hrs) are still the main symptoms of suspected COVID-19 infection. Anosmia (the loss of smell) also seems to be relatively common, as does fatigue/lethargy.

It should be remembered that most cases of COVID-19 are mild (though all require self-isolation nonetheless).

It appears that the fever and cough wax and wane for around a week. Paracetamol, fluids and rest remain the mainstays of treatment. Avoid ibuprofen.

If shortness of breath develops, it tends to do so around day eight of infection and the average time from onset of the illness to hospitalisation, in those needing it, is nine days (range five to 13 days).


Since the Prime Minister’s announcement on March 23, all households are required to stay at home. Accordingly, you should only leave the house for one of four reasons:

  1. Shopping for basic necessities (as infrequently as possible)
  2. One form of exercise a day (while maintaining social distancing)
  3. Any medical needs or to provide care to others
  4. Travelling to and from essential work

Updated evidence

There is evidence from the original outbreak of COVID-19 in China that a high viral load (the number of viral particles) correlates with severity of illness. This explains why many medical practitioners have developed critical illness.

If you have one or more symptomatic individuals in your household, no matter how mild, it would be wise to follow these steps:

  1. Try to keep two metres (three steps) apart wherever possible
  2. Avoid using shared spaces (kitchens/bathrooms) at the same time as each other
  3. Clean shared bathrooms each time they are used
  4. Open windows when feasible
  5. Avoid sharing a bed if possible
  6. Don’t share towels

Further information

Updated information from the government can be found at GOV.UK.

Dr Simon Gillson – Medical Director
Dr Karl Braine – Medical Director