COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.
The NHS, local authorities, police and fire organisations and third sector and voluntary sector organisations across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are working very hard to support individuals, families, businesses, care homes and all key workers during the coronavirus outbreak.
It is extremely important that you continue to access NHS services if and when you need to, for example, contacting your GP, NHS 111 and, in emergencies, 999.
This includes continuing to manage a long-term condition, addressing an arising concern about your health, or continuing to attend appointments linked to cancer and so on. View our animation below for information about accessing services during the pandemic. You can also view the British Sign Language (BSL) version here. More information can be found here.
Mental wellbeing is also crucial at this time. You will find helpful links for this and many other areas on this page.
Local COVID alert level - National Lockdown 05th January 2021
Summary: what you can and cannot do during the national lockdown
To find out more visit Gov.uk
You must stay at home. The single most important action we can all take is to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
You should follow this guidance immediately. The law will be updated to reflect these new rules.
You must not leave, or be outside of your home except where necessary. You may leave the home to:
- shop for basic necessities, for you or a vulnerable person
- go to work, or provide voluntary or charitable services, if you cannot reasonably do so from home
- exercise with your household (or support bubble) or one other person, this should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
- meet your support bubble or childcare bubble where necessary, but only if you are legally permitted to form one
- seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm (including domestic abuse)
- attend education or childcare - for those eligible
Colleges, primary and secondary schools will remain open only for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term. Early Years settings remain open.
Higher Education provision will remain online until mid February for all except future critical worker courses.
If you do leave home for a permitted reason, you should always stay local in the village, town, or part of the city where you live. You may leave your local area for a legally permitted reason, such as for work.
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential. You should not attend work
You cannot leave your home to meet socially with anyone you do not live with or are not in a support bubble with (if you are legally permitted to form one).
You may exercise on your own, with one other person, or with your household or support bubble.
You should not meet other people you do not live with, or have formed a support bubble with, unless for a permitted reason.
Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household.
Hands. Face. Space.
Approximately 1 in 3 people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and could be spreading it without realising it.
Remember - ‘Hands. Face. Space.’
- hands – wash your hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
- face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
- space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)
In all circumstances, you should follow the guidance on meeting others safely.
When you can leave home
You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.
A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:
- Work - you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance
- Volunteering - you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.
- Essential activities - you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
- Education and childcare - You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See further information on education and childcare. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.
- Meeting others and care - You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
- Exercise - You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.You should maintain social distancing. See exercising and meeting other people.
- Medical reasons - You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.
- Harm and compassionate visits - you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.
- Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
- Communal worship and life events - You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship.Weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend, and weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.
There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.
Exercising and meeting other people
You should minimise time spent outside your home.
It is against the law to meet socially with family or friends unless they are part of your household or support bubble. You can only leave your home to exercise, and not for the purpose of recreation or leisure (e.g. a picnic or a social meeting). This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.
You can exercise in a public outdoor place:
- by yourself
- with the people you live with
- with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)
- in a childcare bubble where providing childcare
- or, when on your own, with 1 person from another household
Public outdoor places include:
- parks, beaches, countryside accessible to the public, forests
- public gardens (whether or not you pay to enter them)
- the grounds of a heritage site
Outdoor sports venues, including tennis courts, golf courses and swimming pools, must close.
When around other people, stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household - meaning the people you live with - or your support bubble. Where this is not possible, stay 1 metre apart with extra precautions (e.g. wearing a face covering).
You must wear a face covering in many indoor settings, such as shops or places of worship where these remain open, and on public transport, unless you are exempt. This is the law. Read guidance on face coverings.
Support and childcare bubbles
You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a bubble.
It is against the law to form a support bubble if you do not follow these rules.
You are permitted to leave your home to visit your support bubble (and to stay overnight with them). However, if you form a support bubble, it is best if this is with a household who live locally. This will help prevent the virus spreading from an area where more people are infected.
If you live in a household with anyone aged under 14, you can form a childcare bubble. This allows friends or family from one other household to provide informal childcare.
You must not meet socially with your childcare bubble, and must avoid seeing members of your childcare and support bubbles at the same time.
If you break the rules
The police can take action against you if you meet in larger groups. This includes breaking up illegal gatherings and issuing fines (fixed penalty notices).
You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. If you hold, or are involved in holding, an illegal gathering of over 30 people, the police can issue fines of £10,000.
Protecting people more at risk from coronavirus
If you are clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. There is additional advice for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work, school, college or university, and limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.
You must not leave your home unless you have a reasonable excuse (for example, for work or education purposes). If you need to travel you should stay local – meaning avoiding travelling outside of your village, town or the part of a city where you live – and look to reduce the number of journeys you make overall. The list of reasons you can leave your home and area include, but are not limited to:
- work, where you cannot reasonably work from home
- accessing education and for caring responsibilities
- visiting those in your support bubble – or your childcare bubble for childcare
- visiting hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
- buying goods or services that you need, but this should be within your local area wherever possible
- outdoor exercise. This should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel a short distance within your area to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
- attending the care and exercise of an animal, or veterinary services
If you need to travel, walk or cycle where possible, and plan ahead and avoid busy times and routes on public transport. This will allow you to practice social distancing while you travel.
Avoid car sharing with anyone from outside your household or your support bubble. See the guidance on car sharing.
If you need to use public transport, you should follow the safer travel guidance.
Going to work
You may only leave your home for work if you cannot reasonably work from home.
Where people cannot work from home - including, but not limited to, people who work in critical national infrastructure, construction, or manufacturing - they should continue to travel to their workplace. This is essential to keeping the country operating and supporting sectors and employers.
Public sector employees working in essential services, including childcare or education, should continue to go into work.
Where it is necessary for you to work in other people’s homes - for example, for nannies, cleaners or tradespeople - you can do so. Otherwise, you should avoid meeting for work in a private home or garden, where COVID-19 Secure measures may not be in place.
Going to school, college and university
Colleges, primary (reception onwards) and secondary schools will remain open for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other children will learn remotely until February half term.
In the circumstances, we do not think it is possible for all exams in the summer to go ahead as planned. We will accordingly be working with Ofqual to consult rapidly to put in place alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.
Public exams and vocational assessments scheduled to take place in January will go ahead as planned.
Those students who are undertaking training and study for the following courses should return to face to face learning as planned and be tested twice, upon arrival or self-isolate for ten days:
- Medicine & dentistry
- Subjects allied to medicine/health
- Veterinary science
- Education (initial teacher training)
- Social work
- Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled (your university will notify you if this applies to you).
Students who do not study these courses should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online, as facilitated by their university until at least Mid-February. This includes students on other practical courses not on the list above.
We have previously published guidance to universities and students on how students can return safely to higher education in the spring term. This guidance sets out how we will support higher education providers to enable students that need to return to do so as safely as possible following the winter break.
If you live at university, you should not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time.
There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare:
- Early Years settings (including nurseries and childminders) remain open
- Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare activities (including wraparound care)
- parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under 14. This is mainly to enable parents to work, and must not be used to enable social contact between adults
- some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble
- nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home
Care home visits
Visits to care homes can take place with arrangements such as substantial screens, visiting pods, or behind windows. Close-contact indoor visits are not allowed. No visits will be permitted in the event of an outbreak.
You should check the guidance on visiting care homes during COVID-19 to find out how visits should be conducted. Residents cannot meet people indoors on a visit out (for example, to visit their relatives in the family home). There is separate guidance for those in supported living.
Wherever you live, you may be able to get financial help
- financial support packages for businesses
- financial support for closed businesses as a result of tiering restrictions
- claim for employee wages through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- check if you can claim a grant through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme
- financial support if you’re off work because of coronavirus
Businesses and venues which can remain open
Other businesses and venues are permitted to stay open, following COVID-19 secure guidelines. Businesses providing essential goods and services can stay open. The full list of these businesses can be found in the guidance on closing certain businesses and venues in England, but includes:
- essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products and off-licences
- market stalls selling essential retail may also stay open
- businesses providing repair services may also stay open, where they primarily offer repair services
- petrol stations, automatic (but not manual) car washes, vehicle repair and MOT services, bicycle shops, and taxi and vehicle hire businesses
- banks, building societies, post offices, short-term loan providers and money transfer businesses
- funeral directors
- laundrettes and dry cleaners
- medical and dental services
- vets and retailers of products and food for the upkeep and welfare of animals
- animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers (may continue to be used for animal welfare, rather than aesthetic purposes)
- agricultural supplies shops
- mobility and disability support shops
- storage and distribution facilities
- car parks, public toilets and motorway service areas
- outdoor playgrounds
- outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise
- places of worship
- crematoriums and burial grounds
If your mental health is suffering and you need help, please get in touch as soon as possible:
For Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, call 0300 123 0907 or visit https://www.combined.nhs.uk/get-in-touch/contact-us/
For the rest of Staffordshire, please call 0808 196 3002 or visit https://www.mpft.nhs.uk/emergency-help
Information from councils, voluntary sector and other partners (including where to get help and support)
Local Authorities across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are working hard to support local people and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak. You can find lots of useful information here, from guidance on business grants/support, to advice on what you can do to help out in your local communities.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has also teamed up with several voluntary sector organisations, including VAST, to start #StokeonTrentTogether, the local COVID-19 support network. If you are looking for help, or wanting to support others in Stoke-on-Trent, please visit the website to find out more.
Staffordshire County Council
There is a lot of information available on the Staffordshire County Council website. This includes information about financial support for individuals or community groups, information about mental health and wellbeing and much more.
Local district and borough councils
The individual links below include local information about things such as business grants, waste collections and support for vulnerable people.
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.
In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres.
It's being given to:
- people aged 80 and over
- people who live or work in care homes
- health and social care workers at high risk
You will also need to be registered with a GP surgery in England. You can register with a GP if you do not have one.
The vaccine will be offered more widely as soon as possible.
The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
How the COVID-19 vaccine is given
The COVID-19 vaccine is given as an injection into your upper arm.
It's given as 2 doses. You will have the 2nd dose 3 to 12 weeks after having the 1st dose.
How to get the COVID-19 vaccine
If you've been sent a letter you can book your vaccination appointments online.
If you haven't been contacted yet please don't worry. This is gradual roll-out and you will be contacted as soon as possible. Please do not contact your GP.
How safe is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The vaccines approved for use in the UK have met strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness set out by the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Any coronavirus vaccine that is approved must go through all the clinical trials and safety checks all other licensed medicines go through. The MHRA follows international standards of safety.
Other vaccines are being developed. They will only be available on the NHS once they have been thoroughly tested to make sure they are safe and effective.
So far, thousands of people have been given a COVID-19 vaccine and reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare. No long-term complications have been reported.
To find out more about the vaccines approved in the UK, see:
- GOV.UK: Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
- GOV.UK: Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
- GOV.UK: Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 approved by MHRA
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the 2 doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.
There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine.
This means it is important to:
- continue to follow social distancing guidance
- if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people
Read more about why vaccines are safe and important, including how they work and what they contain.
COVID-19 vaccine side effects
Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:
- a sore arm where the needle went in
- feeling tired
- a headache
- feeling achy
- feeling or being sick
You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, if you need to.
If you have a high temperature you may have coronavirus or another infection.
If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.
Tell healthcare staff before you are vaccinated if you've ever had a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
You should not have the vaccine if you've ever had a serious allergic reaction to:
- a previous vaccine
- a previous dose of the same COVID-19 vaccine
- some medicines, household products or cosmetics
Serious allergic reactions are rare. If you do have a reaction to the vaccine, it usually happens in minutes. Staff giving the vaccine are trained to deal with allergic reactions and treat them immediately.
Advice if you're of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding
There's no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you're pregnant. But more evidence is needed before you can be routinely offered the vaccine.
The JCVI has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you're pregnant and:
- at high risk of getting coronavirus because of where you work
- have a health condition that means you're at high risk of serious complications of coronavirus
You can have the COVID-19 vaccine if you're breastfeeding.
Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination. They will discuss the benefits and risks of the COVID-19 vaccine with you.
You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination. The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.
You can find out more about the vaccine on the NHS website at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/
A4 poster - helps to show the different priority groups
National COVID-19 information and advice
There is lots of information available nationally about the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you think you have symptoms
Stay at home for 10 days if you have either:
- a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly
a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of smell or taste (anosmia)
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.
Testing for coronavirus is now available to everyone in the UK. See the 'testing' section below to find out more about this.
Read more advice about staying at home.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
- you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
- your condition gets worse
- your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.
COVID-19 and your health
If you would like more information about coronavirus, symptoms and information on how to self-isolate, visit the NHS England website.
You can also find the latest guidance from the government on the government website.
It is very important to look after your mental wellbeing at this time. Public Health England has released advice for during the coronavirus pandemic. Visit the Every Mind Matters webpage for more information.
If you're pregnant and worried about coronavirus, you can get advice about coronavirus and pregnancy from the Royal College of Obstretricians and Gynaecologists.
It can be difficult to explain to children what coronavirus is and why the current measures are in place. This fact sheet for children can help you to communicate with youngsters. Childrens Coronavirus Fact Sheet.
You can find information in alternative formats and languages in the ‘useful resources’ section below.
In Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, we are working hard to deliver the vaccine to the nationally agreed priority groups as quickly as we can, as vaccines supplies are sent to us.
You will be contacted by your GP when it is time to get your vaccine, so please do not call your GP surgery or attend any of the vaccination sites without an appointment.
The majority of patients will not be vaccinated at their own GP surgery, but will be asked to go to a local vaccination centre – this may be a GP surgery or somewhere else that has been specially adapted to vaccinate large numbers of people. Each of our sites have been robustly assured and are following social distancing guidelines to help keep patients and staff safe.
As the vaccine supply increases, we are launching more sites over the coming weeks.
This is the largest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS and will take several months to complete. If you are in the priority groups, please be assured that you will be contacted when the vaccine is available for you. Thank you for your patience.
Please wait to be contacted by the NHS for your vaccination appointment, no one will be missed and you will be invited over the coming weeks if you are in an at risk group, if you have a query about the vaccine that cannot be answered through the FAQs, please do not contact your GP or our media line.
You can also find a Coronavirus Vaccination Programme FAQ here
Below you will find which community sites are vaccinating (in bold) and which practices they cover
Community vaccination sites
Alderwood Medical Practice
High Street Surgery
Norton Canes Health Centre - Dr Nilar
The Quinton Practice
Southfield Way Surgery
Norton Canes Surgery – Dr Jalota
Norton Canes Practice – Dr BK Singh
Essington Medical Centre
Pirelli Stadium, Burton Albion
Gordon Street Surgery
Carlton Street Surgery
Tutbury Health Centre
Wetmore Road Surgery
Stapenhill Medical Centre
All Saints Surgery
Moss Lane Surgery
Codsall Satellite Clinic
Moss Grove Surgery
Dale Medical Practice
Bilbrook Medical Centre
Smallthorne Branch Surgery
Brook Medical Centre
Baddeley Green Surgery
Longton Health Centre
Meir Park and Weston Coyney
Dr H P Borse and Partner
Trinity Medical Centre
Dr P D Miles and Valasapalli
Loomer Road Surgery
Loomer Road (including RJ Mitchell)
Chasetown Medical Centre
Burntwood Health and Wellbeing
Birchenwood Sports Centre
JCB Compact Products
Michelin MAC Sports Conference Facility
Dr S B Kulkarni's
Drs Rees & Lefroy
Blurton Health Centre
Furlong Medical Centre
Snowhill Medical Centre
Lucie Wedgwood MC
Furlong Medical Centre
Park Medical Centre
Park Medical Centre
Moorlands Medical Centre
Leek Health Centre
Hanley Health Centre
Foden Street Surgery
Horsefair Practice Group
St Pauls Church
Belgrave (including Sinha)
Glebedale (including Merton St)
Longton Hall Surgery
Newcastle under Lyme College
Langton Medical Group
Roman Way Hotel
Hednesford Medical Practice
Dr S Manickam & Partner
Moss Street Surgery
Chadsmoor Medical Practice
Dr I Rasib (GP Suite)
Dr M Murugan
Dr Khare's Surgery
The Peel Medical
Dr Vije's Surgery
Biddulph Town Hall
Park Medical Centre
Moorlands Medical Centre
Leek Health Centre
Clinically extremely vulnerable 'shielding' patients
While previous shielding guidance helped protect those most at risk from COVID-19, many people reported that they found the advice very restrictive.
Since the introduction of shielding, many new measures have been introduced in our communities, including the rule of 6, COVID-secure workplaces, and the widespread use of face coverings, all of which have reduced the need for such restrictive shielding advice.
The government also has better data on new infections and has introduced local COVID alert levels, with rules and advice based on the level of risk in a local area. This updated guidance offers additional advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable over and above local COVID alert level guidance. This new guidance aims to strike a better balance between providing practical steps to help keep you safe while reducing some of the potentially harmful impacts on mental and social wellbeing that were associated with previous strict shielding. It sets out the steps clinically extremely vulnerable people can take to protect themselves at each local COVID alert level.
In the future, the government will only reintroduce formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas and for a limited period of time. This will only apply to some, but not all, very high alert level areas and will be based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer. The government will write to you separately to inform you if you are advised to shield. You are not advised to follow formal shielding advice again unless you receive a new shielding notification advising you to do so. From now, refer to the new local COVID alert levels for your area.
Find the full guidance here.
Local response to COVID-19
You can find out information about the local response to coronavirus via the weekly stakeholder bulletins below:
|Week commencing 30 March 2020|
|Extra COVID-19 update 7 Dec 2020|
Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough, a high temperature, or change in your normal sense of smell or taste can book a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Those unable to access the internet can call 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland to book a test.
All members of their household must also self-isolate according to current guidelines, unless the symptomatic individual receives a negative test result.
The two local Regional Testing Centres are located at Stoke City Football Club's South Car Park in Stoke-on-Trent and the Stafford Education and Enterprise Park, Beaconside, in Stafford. People must visit the website above in order to book an appointment at this site. Health and care staff can also use these sites.
There are also local testing sites at Newcastle Ryecroft Car Park, Keele University Science and Innovation Park, Beecroft Road Car Park in Cannock, Burton Town Hall and also at Fenton Manor Car Park in Stoke-on-Trent.
In addition to this, there are several mobile testing units which move around across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent. These can also be booked on the national portal via the link above.
Post-COVID recovery (‘long-COVID’)
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.
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
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 www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk
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 www.mpft.nhs.uk/service-users-carers/coronavirus-information/coronavirus-resources 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
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.
The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs are producing weekly podcasts regarding coronavirus. You can listen to the podcasts here.
The following resources are available to support people with a learning disability and their families and carers:
- British Sign Language - head over to our YouTube channel for all BSL coronavirus information videos
- Handwashing guidance easy read
- Handwashing guidance large print
- Handwashing guidance audio
- Accessing NHS services during the pandemic easy read
- NHS Test and Trace symptoms easy read
- NHS Test and Trace - get tested easy read
- NHS Test and Trace - stay at home easy read
- NHS Test and Trace symptoms large print
- NHS Test and Trace - get tested large print
- NHS Test and Trace - stay at home large print
We have also produced a guide for vulnerable people who might need extra support with things such as food parcels, collecting medicines, etc. due to coronavirus. You can find the guide, here: Guide for vulnerable people
Public Health England has published a guide for older adults, looking at home-based activies and how people can maintain their strenth and balance. This can be found here.
We will share further resources as soon as they are available, including material for people with autism. Please head to our COVID-19 resource folder for the full suite of documents available. Follow this link to access our YouTube video library for coronavirus advice, including British Sign Language.
Temporary changes to NHS services in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
Due to the increasing number of coronavirus cases in the UK, our local NHS Trusts, like many all over the country, have taken a range of measures to ensure that the hospitals, staff and patients remain safe. You can keep up to date with the ongoing updates via the links below:
You can also find updates from North Staffordshire Combined NHS Trust via the updates page, here: North Staffordshire Combined NHS Trust coronavirus news
NHS Test and Trace
The government has launched the NHS Test and Trace service as part of the COVID-19 recovery strategy. This will mean anyone with symptoms will be tested and their close contacts will be traced. New guidance means those who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 10 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and will need to share information about their recent interactions. This could include household members, people with whom they have been in direct contact, or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes.
If those in isolation develop symptoms, they can book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. If they test positive, they must continue to stay at home for 10 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 10-day isolation period.
Members of their household will not have to stay at home unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 10 days to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
The NHS test and trace service will help to control the rate of reproduction (R), reduce the spread of the infection and save lives. By playing your part through the actions set out below, you will directly help to contain the virus by reducing its spread. This means that, thanks to your efforts, we will be able to go as far as it is safe to go in easing lockdown measures.
Easy read and large print information/materials can be found in the 'useful resources' section below.
You can help in the following ways:
- if you develop symptoms, you must continue to follow the rules to self-isolate with other members of your household and order a test to find out if you have coronavirus
- if you test positive for COVID-19, you must share information promptly about your recent contacts through the NHS test and trace service to help us alert other people who may need to self-isolate
- if you have had close recent contact with someone who has COVID-19, you must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises you to do so
This specific guidance applies in England only.
If the NHS test and trace service contacts you, the service will use text messages, email or phone.
Contact tracers will:
- call you from 0300 013 5000
- send you text messages from ‘NHS’
- ask you to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website
- ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating
- ask about the COVID-19 symptoms you have been experiencing
- ask you to provide the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone you have had close contact with in the 2 days prior to your symptoms starting
- ask if anyone you have been in contact with is under 18 or lives outside of England
Contact tracers will never:
- ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
- ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
- ask for any details about your bank account
- ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
- ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
- disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts
- provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms
- ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
- ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS
They will ask you:
- if you have family members or other household members living with you. In line with the medical advice they must remain in self-isolation for the rest of the 14-day period from when your symptoms began
- if you have had any close contact with anyone other than members of your household. We are interested in in the 48 hours before you developed symptoms and the time since you developed symptoms. Close contact means:
- having face-to-face contact with someone (less than 1 metre away)
- spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone
- travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or close to them on a plane
- if you work in – or have recently visited – a setting with other people (for example, a GP surgery, a school or a workplace)
They will ask you to provide, where possible, the names and contact details (for example, email address, telephone number) for the people you have had close contact with. As with your own details these will be held in strict confidence and will be kept and used only in line with data protection laws.
How NHS Test and Trace works for someone with COVID-19 symptoms
- isolate: As soon as you experience COVID-19 symptoms, you should self-isolate for at least 10 days. Anyone else in your household should self-isolate for 10 days from when you started having symptoms.
- test: You should order a coronavirus test immediately at uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access.
- results: If your test is positive you must complete the remainder of your 10-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household should also complete self-isolation for 10 days from when you started having symptoms. Failure to self-isolate for the full time-period can result in a fine, starting from £1,000. If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to isolate.
- share contacts: If you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you within 24 hours with instructions of how to share details of people you have been in close, recent contact with and places you have visited. It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that we can give appropriate advice to those who need it. You will be asked to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by one of our NHS contact tracers.
How NHS Test and Trace works for those contacted if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
- alert: You will be alerted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The alert will come either by text or email and you’ll need to log on to the NHS Test and Trace website, which is the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but, if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you need to do. Under 18’s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue.
- isolate: You will be asked to begin self-isolation for up to 10 days, depending on when you last came into contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell, because it can take up to 10 days for the symptoms to develop. This will be crucial to avoid you unknowingly spreading the virus to others. Failure to self-isolate for the full time-period can result in a fine, starting from £1,000. Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and washing your hands.
- test if needed: If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, other members of your household should self-isolate at home and you should book a COVID-19 test at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ or call 119 if you have no internet access. If your test is positive you must continue to stay at home for 10 days. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 10 day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet.
For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works.
The NHS COVID-19 app
The new NHS COVID-19 app, now available to download for free in England and Wales, is the fastest way to see if you’re at risk from COVID-19. The faster you know, the quicker you can alert and protect your loved ones and community.
The app has a number of tools to protect you, including contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in. It uses proven technology from Apple and Google, designed to protect every user’s privacy.
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
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.
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
Treatment for coronavirus
There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus.
Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses.
Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
You'll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.