Coronavirus: everything you need to know about COVID-19

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Medically reviewed by

Dr Babak Ashrafi

Last reviewed: 25 Jun 2020

Get clear, up-to-date, and accurate information on the coronavirus directly from our doctors. We’re continually analysing the latest data to make sure you're always getting the right advice. We're also offering both PCR and antibody lab tests as part of our efforts to help combat the virus.


What is coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a virus which can affect animals and humans.

It's thought that coronavirus spreads in a similar way to other viruses which are passed on through coughing or sneezing, as it's carried in droplets.

As with other coronaviruses, it's likely that this coronavirus can also be picked up from surfaces. This is thought to be up to 72 hours, depending on the surface it's on.

Learn more about COVID-19 and different coronaviruses

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a fever and/or
  • a continuous dry cough, which can occasionally lead to shortness of breath and breathing difficulties

Some people might develop more common 'cold' symptoms too.

Other symptoms can include:

  • muscle aches
  • headache
  • sore throat
  • diarrhoea
  • loss of sense of smell and/or taste
  • tiredness and fatigue
  • a rash

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to more common illnesses, and many people may be asymptomatic carriers. This means you may be carrying the virus without developing any symptoms.

What should I do if I'm experiencing symptoms?

How does coronavirus spread?

Experts think that, like colds and flu, coronavirus spreads via droplets produced by coughing and sneezing. As with other coronaviruses, it's likely that this coronavirus can also be picked up from surfaces.

More research is being done to see if there are other ways of transmitting the virus.

How can I protect myself from coronavirus?

When and how should I self isolate?


How do you diagnose coronavirus?

The only sure way to diagnose a coronavirus infection is with a lab test.

Coronavirus infections are difficult to identify as the symptoms are similar to other conditions such as the common cold or flu.

Learn how to get tested for coronavirus

Coronavirus tests

There are 2 different kinds of lab-based tests currently available: swab tests which check if you currently have coronavirus, and antibody tests which detect if you have had it in the past. Both of these tests are available through Zava with results available within as little as 2 days.

Order your coronavirus lab test

Learn how to get tested for coronavirus

How do you treat coronavirus (COVID-19)?

There is currently no treatment for this coronavirus. Managing the symptoms while your body builds a natural immunity is the only way to beat the virus. Due to this, we recommend

  • regular paracetamol to manage a fever or pain
  • natural remedies for a cough such as honey and lemon
  • drinking plenty of water
  • getting lots of rest

Learn how to treat the coronavirus and when to seek help

Am I in a ‘risk-group’?

The government has created different groups to help people understand their level of risk from coronavirus. These are called ‘risk-groups’. If you’re in a ‘risk group’ you need to take extra care.

People with increased risk:

The people at most risk include those who:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having certain types of cancer treatment
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
  • have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or asthma
  • have a condition or are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections
  • are pregnant and have a serious heart condition

Am I more at risk than others from the coronavirus?

How does coronavirus affect asthma?

Coronavirus: pregnancy and newborns

Medically reviewed by:
Dr Babak Ashrafi Clinical Lead for Service Expansion

Babak studied medicine at King’s College London and graduated in 2003, having also gained a bachelor’s degree in Physiology during his time there. He completed his general practice (GP) training in East London, where he worked for a number of years as a partner at a large inner-city GP practice. He completed the Royal College of GPs membership exam in 2007.

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Last reviewed: 25 Jun 2020

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