Coronavirus questions and answers

You will all be aware that Redbridge and the rest of the country are facing a significant health threat from the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We have been working with its partners to prepare for and limit the potential impacts of the spread of the virus in the borough.

We are continuing to follow closely national advice from Public Health England, the NHS, and Government departments. The current advice to individuals and organisations is liable to change as the situation develops and there is a high likelihood that new amended advice will be provided to us very shortly. We will inform you immediately as advice and guidance changes.


When should I self-isolate?

Since 16th March, the current advice is for people who live alone to stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days, without testing for COVID-19, if they have either a new continuous cough or a high temperature of 37.8 degrees or higher. This is advice for anyone regardless of any travel history. After 7 days of self-isolation, people who feel better and no longer have a high temperature can return to their normal routine. If they have had no signs of improvement after 7 days and have not already sought medical advice, they should use NHS 111 online (and only call NHS 111 if they cannot get online). They should call 999 at any time in this period if they feel it is an emergency.

If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must self-isolate for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well need to self-isolate for 14 days. If any household member develops symptoms during the 14 days of isolation, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.

After 14 days of self-isolation, people who feel better and no longer have a high temperature can return to their normal routine. If they have had no signs of improvement after 14 days and have not already sought medical advice, they should use NHS 111 online (and only call NHS 111 if they cannot get online). They should call 999 at any time in this period if they feel it is an emergency

A cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean someone must continue to stay at home for more than 14 days.

Find advice on household self-isolation.


How long do I need to stay at home?

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you’ll need to stay at home for 7 days
  • If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms
  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days
  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible


If you’re at high risk

  • The NHS will contact you from Monday 23rd March 2020 if you are at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus. You’ll be given specific advice about what to do
  • Do not contact your GP or healthcare team at this stage – wait to be contacted


What does it mean if I need to self-isolate?

The advice is that you should remain in your home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis. You cannot go for a walk.

  • You should aim to be in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened. Try to separate yourself from other people in your home and keep the door closed. If you cannot stay in a separate room aim to keep 2 metres away from other people in your house
  • You should use your own eating and drinking utensils, towels, washcloths or bedlinen. You should clean surfaces in toilets and bathrooms after you have used them. If you share a kitchen, avoid using it while others are present
  • Do not have visitors in your home
  • When cleaning, you should use your usual household products, like detergent and bleach, as these will be effective in getting rid of viruses on surfaces. Personal waste (e.g. used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths should be double bagged, tied securely, and kept separate from other waste within your own room. This should be put aside for 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin
  • Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items. Do not shake dirty laundry


What is social distancing?

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce the social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

They are:

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible
  • Work from home, where possible. Your employer should support you to do this. Please refer to employer guidance for more information
  • Avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services
  • Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as is pragmatic
  • For those who are over 70, have an underlying health condition or are pregnant, we strongly advise you to follow the above measures as much as you can, and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible
  • This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks


Who will be tested for COVID-19?

Testing will not be offered routinely to individuals staying at home. Patients who require overnight admission to hospital and who have potential COVID-19 symptoms will be tested.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of this new coronavirus (COVID-19) include cough, fever, shortness of breath, or flu-like symptoms. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild.


What can I do to protect myself and my family?

Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze. Then bin the tissue, and wash your hands, or use a sanitiser gel. Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds each time with soap and water or hand sanitiser (especially when getting home or into work, blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or eating and handling food).

If you or your family become ill, drink plenty of water and use over the counter medications such as paracetamol to help with your symptoms. Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze.


How can I get assistance with foods and medicines while reducing social contact?

  • Asking family, friends and neighbours to support you and use online services. If this is not possible, then the public sector, business, charities and the general public are gearing up to help those advised to stay at home
  • It is important to speak to others and ask them to help you to make arrangements for the delivery of food, medicines and essential services and supplies, and look after your physical and mental health and wellbeing
  • If you receive support from health and social organisations, for example if you have care provided for you through the local authority or health care system, this will continue as normal


Do I need to stockpile food?

Please do not panic buy at supermarkets & shops, there is no threat to the supply chain for food and providing we all shop normally, the shelves will remain full enough for everyone to get what they need. Please think about the most vulnerable who will need supplies and particularly think of the nurses, doctors and all the other keyworkers, on whom everyone of us relies. It’s not fair if they come off shift with a very small timescale to buy food and supplies only to find that the shelves are empty


Is hand sanitiser effective?

The best way to protect yourself from infections like coronavirus is to regularly wash your hands with soap and water. If soap or water isn’t available and your hands are visibly clean, then sanitiser gel can be used.


Does wearing a mask protect you from COVID-19?

There is no evidence that members of the public wearing face masks protects against COVID-19 or other such diseases. They do remain important in clinical settings due to the tasks that some clinicians have with patients and where they are used and disposed of carefully following infection control guidelines.


Should people avoid shaking hands?

In adherence to Social Distancing and handwashing guidance, it is good practice; during this COVID-19 Pandemic, to avoid the shaking of hands. This is because it is most important that people practice the social distancing guidance, good hand and respiratory hygiene and wash their hands frequently and thoroughly.

Why is shaking of hands an issue now?

This is because, during this COVID -19 pandemic, the shaking of hands can defeat or jeopardize all three infection prevention measures designed to fight against the spread and acquisition of the COVID-19 infection which are:

  1. Social Distancing
  2. Good Hand Hygiene
  3. Good Respiratory Hygiene: Catch it (in a tissue) bin it kill it (wash hands)


What should I do if I have been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19?

If you are experiencing any symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, visit NHS 111 online and follow the advice for self-isolation.


What personal protective equipment (PPE) will care staff need when entering the properties of symptomatic residents?

Appropriate PPE will be provided to care staff who are visiting our service users. This will be stored securely at the Ley Street Depot and processes for distributing this are being finalised. We are expecting delivery of PPE stocks in the next few days.


Are any additional measures recommended for the collection of household waste from households with confirmed case over and above the usual routine?

Where there are confirmed cases, household waste should be double-bagged for disposal.


I’ve heard that COVID-19 can be more serious in people with underlying health conditions. What does this mean?

Underlying health conditions are those that make the immune system operate less well. We are expecting shortly additional national advice on measures for socially distancing people who:

  • Are aged over 70
  • Are pregnant
  • Have any of the underlying conditions that would mean you were normally eligible for a seasonal flu jab

This advice is likely to suggest that those of us who fall under these categories socially distance themselves for up to 12 weeks.


If people have had a confirmed case of the virus, are they now immune to it?

There is no firm evidence yet to confirm this.


I’m really worried and finding it difficult to cope with it all.

You can access lots of excellent mental health and emotional wellbeing support, courses, and apps and online resources. See our list of helpful resources below:


If you need to talk to someone urgently, you can call:

  • SANE: 0845 767 8000 (6pm-11pm, every day)
  • Samaritans: 116 123 (24 hours a day)


We will be adding to and updating this list of frequently asked questions and their answers as the situation develops.

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