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.
How to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus
- 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.
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 (cough and/or high temperature) 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
- 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.
National coronavirus information and advice
There is lots of information available nationally about the coronavirus 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.
Coronavirus 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.
Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough; high temperature; and now also a loss of 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 accoring 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 Bet365 Stadium 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.
NHS Test and Trace
The government has launched the NHS Test and Trace service as part of the coronavirus 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 14 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 7 days or until their symptoms have passed. If they test negative, they must complete the 14-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 14 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 coronavirus, 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 coronavirus, 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 coronavirus 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 coronavirus symptoms
- isolate: As soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, you should self-isolate for at least 7 days. Anyone else in your household should self-isolate for 14 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 7-day self-isolation. Anyone in your household should also complete self-isolation for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. 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 coronavirus
- 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 coronavirus. 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 14 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 14 days for the symptoms to develop. This will be crucial to avoid you unknowingly spreading the virus to others. 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 coronavirus, other members of your household should self-isolate at home and you should book a coronavirus 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 7 days. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14 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.
Clinically extremely vulnerable 'shielding' patients
The UK Government has set out a roadmap for the clinically extremely vulnerable on the future of the shielding programme.
For now, the guidance remains the same – stay at home and only go outside to exercise or to spend time outdoors with a member of your household, or with one other person from another household if you live alone – but the guidance will change on 6 July and again on 1 August , based on clinical evidence.
Shielding and other advice to the clinically extremely vulnerable has been and remains advisory.
What are the changes?
Recently, the UK Government advised that you can spend time outdoors, if you wish, with your own household, or if you live alone with another household. Following this, and alongside current scientific and medical advice the UK Government is planning to relax shielding guidance in stages.
From 6 July, the guidance will change so you can meet in groups of up to six people from outside your household – outdoors with social distancing. For example, you might want to enjoy a summer BBQ outside at a friend’s house, but remember it is still important to maintain social distancing and you should not share items such as cups and plates. If you live alone (or are a lone adult with dependent children under 18), you will be able to form a support bubble with another household.
From 1 August, you will no longer need to shield, and the advice will be that you can visit shops and places of worship, but you should continue maintaining rigorous social distancing.
Why is the guidance changing now?
The roadmap has been developed in line with the latest scientific and medical advice and with the safety and welfare of those who are shielding in mind. Current statistics show that the rate of catching coronavirus in the community continues to decrease. On average less than 1 in 1,700 in our communities are estimated to have the virus, down from 1 in 500 four weeks ago.
Unless advised otherwise by your clinician, you are still in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category and should continue to follow the advice for that category, which can be found here.
We will monitor the virus continuously over coming months and if it spread too much, we may need to advise you to shield again.
If you are in receipt of Government provided food boxes and medicine deliveries, you will continue to receive this support until the end of July.
Local councils and volunteers are also providing support to people who are shielding, to enable them to stay safely in their homes. The government is funding local councils to continue to provide these services to those who need them until the end of July.
What support is available to people who are shielding until the end of July?
There are a number of ways that those who are shielding can access food and other essentials:
- Make use of thesupermarket priority delivery slots that are available for this group. When a clinically extremely vulnerable person registers onlineas needing support with food, their data is shared with supermarkets. This means if they make an online order with a supermarket (as both a new or existing customer), they will be eligible for a priority slot.
- Use the many commercial options now available for accessing food, including telephone ordering, food box delivery, prepared meal delivery and other non-supermarket food delivery providers. A list has been shared with local authorities and charities.
- A free, standardised weekly parcel of food and household essentials. If you have registered for this support onlinebefore 17 July you will continue to receive weekly food box deliveries until the end of July.
- If you need urgent help and have no other means of support, contact your local council to find out what support services are available in their area.
- For anyone facing financial hardship, the government has made £63 million available to local councils in England to help those who are struggling to afford food and other essentials.
NHS Volunteer Responders
Support will continue to be available through the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme beyond the end of July.
NHS Volunteer Responders can support you with:
- Collecting shopping, medication (if your friends and family cannot collect them for you) or other essential supplies;
- A regular, friendly phone call which can be provided by different volunteers each time or by someone who is also shielding and will stay in contact for several weeks; and
- Transport to medical appointment.
Please call 0808 196 3646 between 8am and 8pm to arrange support or speak to your health case professional for transport support. A carer or family member can also do this on their behalf. More information is available at www.nhsvolunteerresponders.org.uk
Any essential carers or visitors who support you with your everyday needs can continue to visit unless they have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell).
People in the clinically extremely vulnerable group should continue to access the NHS services they need during this time. This may be delivered in a different way or in a different place than they are used to, for example via an online consultation, but if they do need to go to hospital or attend another health facility for planned care, extra planning and protection will be put in place.
Mental health support
It is normal during these uncertain and unusual times to feel anxious or feel low.
Follow the advice that works for you in the guidance on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you feel you need to talk to someone about your mental health or you are looking for more support for someone else, we would urge you to speak to a GP and seek out mental health support delivered by charities or the NHS.
Income and employment support
At this time, people who are shielding are advised not to go to work. This guidance remains advisory.
Those shielding will be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on the basis of their shielding status until the 31 July. SSP eligibility criteria apply
From 1 August, if clinically extremely vulnerable people are unable to work from home but need to work, they can, as long as the business is COVID safe.
The Government is asking employers to work with them to ease the transition back to a more normal way of life for their shielding employees. It is important that this group continues to take careful precautions, and employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where this is possible, including moving them to another role if required.
Where this is not possible, those who have been shielding should be provided with the safest onsite roles that enable them to maintain social distancing.
If employers cannot provide a safe working environment, they can continue to use the Job Retention Scheme for shielded employees who have already been furloughed.
What support will be available after July?
From 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable people will continue to have access to priority supermarket delivery slots if you have registered online before 17 July for a priority delivery slot.
NHS Volunteer Responders will also continue to offer support to those who need it, including collecting and delivering food and medicines.
The NHS Volunteer Responders Scheme has been expanded to offer a new Check in and Chat Plus role. This new role has been designed to provide peer support and companionship to people who are shielding as they adapt to a more normal way of life.
If you are vulnerable or at risk and need help with shopping, medication or other essential supplies, please call 0808 196 3646 (8am to 8pm).
Government is committed to supporting local councils and voluntary sector organisations to respond to those who have specific support needs and requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Details of the support and advice available can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/find-coronavirus-support
The updated shielding guidance should not affect any social care or support you were receiving prior to the start of shielding.
Individuals should continue to contact their local council if they have any ongoing social care needs.
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
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 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.
Local response to coronavirus
You can find out information about the local response to coronavirus via the weekly stakeholder bulletins below: