This week, coronavirus cases in the UK have hit 15, leading to widespread panic about the spread of the virus.
With symptoms including fever, cough and breathing difficulties, in can be tricky to know if you’ve been infected, or simply have the common cold.
Now, the NHS has provided new advice for how to get tested for the virus, as well as how to self-isolate if you suspect you have it.
The NHS has launched a programme of testing with a network of around 100 hospitals across England, and has also started pilots of home testing in London.
Here’s everything you need to know about coronavirus testing, including when to seek testing, and when to self-isolate.
How to get tested for coronavirus
If you believe you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, your first point of call should be using NHS 111.
Professor Keith Willett, NHS strategic incident director for coronavirus, explained: “Anyone who is concerned they have signs and symptoms, should continue to use NHS 111 as their first point of contact – they will tell you what you exactly what you need to do and where necessary, the right place to be tested.”
Depending on your symptoms, the NHS will either advise you to visit your nearest hospital for testing, self-isolate, or organise a home-visit.
Professor Willett added: “We have started to pilot home testing for coronavirus in London, which will be carried out by NHS staff, like nurses or paramedics, allowing people to stay home rather than having to travel, which is safer for you and your family and limits the spread of infection.”
The test itself looks for signs of infection in your blood, via a blood sample.
How to self-isolate
If you’re waiting for your test results or have recently travelled abroad, the NHS may advise you to self-isolate.
If you have been told to self-isolate, you’ll need to get to the place you are going to stay, once there remain indoors and avoid contact with other people.
This will prevent you from spreading the disease to your family, friends and the wider community.
What to do if you become ill at work
If you start showing symptoms at work, the Business Department and Public Health England advise that you should find a room where you can be isolated behind a closed door.
They explained: “If possible find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation.
"The individual who is unwell should call NHS 111 from their mobile, or 999 if an emergency (if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk) and explain which country they have returned from in the last 14 days and outline their current symptoms.
"Whilst they wait for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, they should remain at least two metres from other people.
"They should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze and put the tissue in a bag or pocket then throw the tissue in the bin.
"If they don't have any tissues available, they should cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.
"If they need to go to the bathroom whilst waiting for medical assistance, they should use a separate bathroom if available."
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