Covid prevention and recovery

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Covid prevention

  • How to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19


    • Wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
    • Always wash your hands when you get home or into work
    • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
    • Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
    • Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell


    • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

    Stay alert

    We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:

    • Stay at home as much as possible
    • Work from home if you can
    • Limit contact with other people
    • Keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
    • Wash your hands regularly

    Self-isolate if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

    Face coverings

    If you are going into a hospital, or into a GP practice in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, either as a patient or a visitor, you must now wear a face covering at all times. If you do not have a face covering, the hospital will provide one for you on arrival. You must also wear a face covering when travelling by public transport. This will help to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

    Face coverings are also mandatory in enclosed spaces including all shops and supermarkets. Exemptions to this include anyone under the age of 11, or those with disabilities, or hidden health conditions such as breathing difficulties, mental health conditions or autism. 

    Face coverings are also mandatory in places such as nail, beauty and hair salons, barbers, cinemas, museums and many other places. The full list of places can be found here.

    People are not required to prove they are exempt and it is for individuals to choose how they would want to communicate this to others. For those who would feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering, exemption cards are available to print or display on mobile phones.

    Full guidance on face coverings can be found here

    The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not developed symptoms.

    It is important to note that a face covering is not the same as a facemask as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers. These supplies must continue to be reserved for those who need it.

    The type of face covering the majority of the public need, can be something as simple as a scarf or a bandana or, you could make one at home – some simple instructions can be found here.

    What is the new advice?

    • If you have symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature and/or change/loss to your usual sense of taste or smell) you and your household should isolate at home: wearing a face covering does not change this

    • When visiting a hospital or GP practice in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent as a patient or visitor you should wear a face covering at all times

    • When entering a shop or supermarket you should wear a face covering at all times. You will also need to wear a face covering in a lot of other places, such as nail, hair and beauty salons, barbers, cinema and museums. You will also need to wear a face covering in bars and restaurants when you are not seated. The full list of places can be found here
    • When travelling by public transport you must wear a face covering at all times
    • If you can, wear a face covering in other enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
    • A cloth face covering should cover your mouth and nose while allowing you to breathe comfortably
    • It is important to wash your hands or use hand sanitiser before putting it on and taking it off
    • Remember to put on your face covering before you enter the enclosed space
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth and store used face coverings in a plastic bag until you have an opportunity to wash them
    • Once removed, make sure you clean any surfaces the face covering has touched.
    • Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 2 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly for example primary school age children unassisted, or those with respiratory conditions
    • People who have problems breathing while wearing a face covering should not wear one
    • You do not need to wear face coverings if you are outdoors or while exercising

Post-COVID recovery

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways. It can harm virtually every part of our body – inside and out.

This is why there are so many different symptoms and why some people take much longer to get better than others.

  • Post-COVID symptoms

    People who test positive for COVID-19 and experience symptoms that stay with them for more than 12 weeks are likely to be suffering from what we now call ‘long-COVID’ or ‘post-COVID syndrome’. They might just have one or two symptoms, or they might have several. These can include:

    • Breathlessness or shortness of breath
    • Feeling weak and having joint stiffness
    • Increased phlegm
    • Having a poor appetite, changes in taste
    • Difficulties swallowing
    • Changes to speech
    • Unintentional weight loss
    • Feeling very tired and having a lack of energy
    • Being unable to sleep well
    • Feeling low in mood, anxious
    • Having difficulty remembering things or doing basic tasks
    • Feeling more confused than normal (delirium)
    • Having flashbacks to when you were ill
    • Worrying about your financial situation
  • Post-COVID support

    COVID-19 is a new condition. Experts and health care professionals are working hard to learn more about COVID-19, the extent of its impact and the best way to manage it. However, we already know a lot about recovery and rehabilitation from other conditions that we can build upon.

    The NHS and experts in the different health conditions have produced a wide selection of helpful information and advice that covers each of the currently known symptoms of coronavirus and long-COVID. You can find guides, checklists, videos, apps and much more at

    Finding, or asking someone else to help you find information and advice about the different symptoms is the first step. This will help you to feel more comfortable at first and eventually help you to fully recover. For example, the locally-produced leaflet Supporting your recovery journey, available at covers many of the symptoms that people are experiencing with long-COVID and it contains lots of ideas, suggestions and top tips to overcome them.

    If you have symptoms that aren’t new or are worsening and which haven’t gone away after 28 days, you will soon be able to access further support. More information will be available about this soon.

    There are also some things you can do whatever your symptoms. Here are five top tips that will help you to feel better and begin your recovery:

    • Drink water to keep hydrated
    • Eat well - little and often helps, include protein at each meal
    • Set realistic recovery goals
    • Move more. Gradually increase the amount you do
    • Connect with family, friends, carers, healthcare professionals

    If you have worsening or new symptoms within 28 days of a positive COVID-19 test, or if you are having difficulty in following self-care advice, you should contact your GP.

    If you have sudden worsening of shortness of breath, severe chest pain or are coughing up blood then call 999.

    Further Information and online resources

  • FAQs

    What is the evidence for the treatment of Long COVID?

    The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published the scope for the forthcoming guideline on Post-COVID Syndrome (Long COVID) which is due to be published by the end of the year.

    The scope outlines what areas the guideline will cover, including alerts to prompt a referral for specialist assessment or management, pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions to improve physical or mental health symptoms following acute COVID-19, and how best to deliver long-COVID recovery and rehabilitation services.

    The draft guidelines are being consulted on with stakeholders, including relevant national professional and user/patient and carer groups, ahead of publication. The publication of the guideline is likely to influence development of future long-COVID services.

    What are the Long COVID assessment services?

    The NHS has invested £10 million to meet the additional demand created by ongoing COVID-19 symptoms in a proportion of the population. This investment will help local services in every part of the country bring together the right professionals to provide physical, cognitive and psychological assessments for those experiencing suspected post-COVID syndrome (long-COVID), so that they can be referred to the right support.    

    What will the Long COVID assessment services do?

    Long-COVID assessment services are designed to complement and fit in with existing services, so will vary in their set-up depending on services available in the area. As per the national specification for setting up Long COVID assessment services, each service will, as a minimum:

    • Be available to all affected patients who need it, whether they were previously hospitalised for COVID-19 or not and whether or not they have had a positive COVID-19 test.
    • Have access to a multidisciplinary team of professionals to account for the multi-system nature of post-COVID syndrome
    • Support collaboration across localities where patients’ needs require this
    • Have age appropriate arrangements in place for managing children and young people with post-COVID syndrome including support for psychological needs
    • Have access to diagnostic tests
    • Ensure coverage of the population in that geography
    • Have a plan for ensuring equity of access
    • Have a local communications plan for raising awareness within the clinical community
    • Have an external communication plan for informing and raising awareness with patients

    How will these services be developed?

    The funding has been allocated to each region to develop post-COVID assessment services in a way that works best for patient populations and can be established in the timeliest way. Some services were already being established due to high demand in the area, some will be adapted from existing services and some will be newly established. As stated above, all services must adhere to the national specification for longCOVID assessment services.

    The Long COVID assessment services are one initial element to support people with long-COVID, and as well as the support of existing primary care, specialist and rehabilitation support the online platform Your COVID Recovery has been developed.

    This is a digital, interactive and tailored recovery programme that has been developed by experts to provide rehabilitation support for post-COVID-19 patients to manage their recovery at home. The public facing information website launched in July 2020, providing general information on all aspects of recovering from COVID-19 including physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing, advice on recovery and information for families and carers.