Advice for patients

Publication date: 02 March 2020

Dr Jonathan Leach, Honorary Secretary of the Royal College of GPs, said: "The most important thing for patients is not to be alarmed. It is still more likely that anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms will have the flu or a bad cold, not Covid-19.

"It's vital that we're all on the same page about Covid-19 and that patients and healthcare professionals follow the advice from relevant authorities, such as Public Health England (PHE) and equivalent organisations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"Everyone should practise basic good hygiene measures in order to keep well and help stop the spread of Covid-19, as well as other viruses: wash your hands with soap and water, or alcohol-based sanitizer, if a sink isn’t available; cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hands; and throw tissues in the bin immediately after use.

"Current advice is that self-isolation is only necessary for patients who meet the criteria for Covid-19 – that is, they have symptoms, which might include a high temperature, cough and shortness of breath, and have been to an affected country, or been in contact with someone who has. People should be guided by NHS 111 on this. There is no current advice that people should self-isolate as a preventative measure from catching Covid-19, as opposed to a precautionary measure against spreading it.

"If a patient does think they might have Covid-19, it’s imperative that do not go to the GP practice or A&E but call NHS 111."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7494/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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