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What to do if you have Covid: Symptoms, tests and can you go to work or school?

The latest Covid booster campaign is under way across the UK and those who qualify are urged to get jabbed as soon as possible.

No Covid restrictions are in place across the UK but guidance recommends people who catch the virus “should try to stay at home”.

What are the Covid symptoms?

Many of the symptoms are similar to those for colds and flu and include:

  • high temperature, fever or chills
  • continuous cough
  • loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • aching body
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

Most people feel better within a few days or weeks – but for some, it can be more serious.

Those concerned their or their child’s symptoms are worsening should request an urgent GP appointment or help from NHS 111.


More on Covid and the Covid Inquiry


What about long Covid?

Between 2% and 20% of people catching Covid go on to have longer-term symptoms, “long Covid”, research suggests.

In March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated 1.9 million people in the UK (2.9% of the population) still had symptoms more than four weeks after their initial infection.

There is no simple test for long Covid, and people report a variety of symptoms, including:

  • extreme tiredness
  • shortness of breath
  • muscle aches
  • memory and concentration problems (“brain fog”)

Some people have developed long Covid after an initial mild infection.

Where can you get a Covid test?

Routine Covid testing is not recommended, and most people can’t get free tests via the NHS.

You may still be able to get free NHS tests if you:

  • have a health condition that makes you eligible for treatment if you test positive
  • work in healthcare or a hospice

You can buy a test for about £2 from High Street and online chemists. But you cannot report these test results to the NHS.

Do you have to isolate after testing positive?

People are largely advised to treat Covid like any other respiratory disease. You no longer have to self-isolate after testing positive.

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