Advice from Public Health England

We're reminding everyone to follow Public Health England advice to:

  • always carry tissues and use them to catch your cough or sneeze, then bin the tissue, and wash your hands with soap and water
  • wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after using public transport
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are unwell

You can find the latest information and advice from Public Health England.


Some people are being asked self-isolate. It does not mean that people who are self-isolating have the virus.

These are the same precautions that everyone would take to avoid other people if suffering from a heavy cold or the winter flu, stay at home and not go to work or school. During this time, they will be supported by Public Health England, who monitor them and do more tests if they show any symptoms of the virus. They'll provide any further care needed. 

Overseas travellers

Everyone should follow the advice issued by Public Health England in relation to returning travellers. If you do feel unwell and have travelled to the UK from mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days, then you should stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if symptoms are mild.

If you have travelled from Wuhan or Hubei province in the last 14 days then you should stay indoors and avoid contact with others as you would with flu. Call NHS 111 to inform them of your symptoms and let them know of your recent travel to the city.

Wellbeing in public spaces

We understand that some people may be concerned about being in public spaces where people who have been confirmed of having Covid-19 have been. Public Health England are taking all necessary steps to prevent the spread of illness and contacting people.

It’s been widely reported in the media that the person with the first confirmed case of Covid-19 visited the Grenadier pub in Hove. Public Health England assessed the risk to staff and diners at the grenadier pub. They judged the contact with others to be minimal with the exception of a small number of staff who were judged to have had close contact.

Those staff members have been told to isolate at home so that if they do become cases any risk of ongoing transmission is minimised. This is an extremely cautious approach but one that will minimise the spread of this virus.

For other cases, Public Health England will assess their degree of contact with others and directly contact those who are considered to be at risk.

None of the cases of Coronavirus reported in the media were acquired in the UK.

How effective are hand gels?

Alcohol hand gels that are at least 60% alcohol are a good substitute for handwashing but only where hands are visibly clean. The best method for cleaning hands is using soap and warm, running water.

How useful are face masks?

Face masks play a very important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals but there’s very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use outside of these clinical settings. Facemasks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly and disposed of safely in order to be effective.

The best way to protect ourselves from infections like coronavirus is to wash our hands frequently with soap and water or use a sanitiser gel that is at least 60% alcohol, as well as always carrying tissues and using them to catch coughs and sneezes, then putting the tissue in a bin.

How long does the virus survive outside of the human body and on surfaces like glass, metal and plastic?

Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how it spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread by cough droplets or sneeze droplets. These droplets fall on people in the vicinity and can be directly inhaled or picked up on the hands and transferred when someone touches their face.

How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors; for example:

  • what surface the virus is on
  • whether it is exposed to sunlight
  • differences in temperature and humidity
  • exposure to cleaning products

Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours, and even more so by 48 hours.

Further information

Find answers to frequently asked questions from Public Health England.

Find answers to frequently asked questions from the World Health Organisation