Covid 19 (coronavirus)

The College is monitoring the situation regarding the Covid-19 virus closely. RCGP Honorary Secretary Jonathan Leach has convened a group, including representatives from the BMA and Royal College of Nursing, to determine how Covid-19 will impact on general practice and look at developing practical resources to support GPs and their teams to manage the emerging situation.

We are currently in the containment phase of managing this virus, during which time case identification, contact tracing and isolation is important. Work is currently being undertaken to understand the nature of the virus, strategies to treat it including vaccination and how to prepare should it become more prevalent within the UK.

The RCGP/BMA/RCN and other colleges are working together to support colleagues in primary care with timely advice and practical actions.

Every attempt will be taken to keep this advice current but if in any doubt then please refer to the Public Health England (or appropriate devolved nations advice) via the drop-down menu below.

We are issuing regular updates and our Chair, Professor Martin Marshall and Officers are giving regular media interviews. You can read our latest statement on COVID-19.

If your practice has experienced any difficulties in implementing the current guidance or protocols, please let us know so we can provide feedback to the relevant authorities – contact

Current case definition (as of 18 February 2020)

If the patient satisfies the Epidemiological Criteria AND the Clinical Criteria, they are classified as a possible case

Epidemiological criteria

Please note these criteria changed on 7 February 2020, and should be applied prospectively only to those being assessed after this date.

In the 14 days before the onset of illness:

  • travel to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, or Thailand. This includes transit, for any length of time, in these countries OR
  • contact (see definition below) with confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV

Clinical criteria

  • severe acute respiratory infection requiring admission to hospital with clinical or radiological evidence of pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome OR
  • acute respiratory infection of any degree of severity, including at least one of shortness of breath (difficult breathing in children) or cough (with or without fever) OR
  • fever with no other symptoms
  • Clinicians should be alert to the possibility of atypical presentations in patients who are immunocompromised

Definition of Contact (as of 18 February 2020)

For the purposes of testing, contact with a case is defined as:

  • living in the same household OR
  • direct contact with the case or their body fluids or their laboratory specimens, or in the same room of a healthcare setting when an aerosol generating procedure is undertaken on the case without appropriate PPE OR
  • direct or face to face contact with a case, for any length of time OR 
  • being within 2 metres of the case for any other exposure not listed above, for longer than 15 minutes OR 
  • being otherwise advised by a public health agency that contact with a confirmed case has occurred

Practical resources


The following link to posters that have been produced for use in GP surgeries.

GP Business Continuity Plans

To follow

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