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Coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, China in January 2020.

The incubation period of COVID-19, is between 2 to 14 days. This means that if a person remains well 14 days after contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus, they have not become a case.

The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has COVID-19 infection:

  • cough
  • difficulty in breathing
  • fever

Generally, these infections can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

6. Preventing the spread of infection

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.

There are general principles anyone can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • washing your hands often – with soap and water, or use alcohol sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are not available – this is particularly important after taking public transport. Guidance is available on hand washing
  • covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin. See Catch It, Bin It, Kill It
  • people who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work
  • employees should wash their hands:
    • before leaving home
    • on arrival at work
    • after using the toilet
    • after breaks and sporting activities
    • before food preparation
    • before eating any food, including snacks
    • before leaving work
    • on arrival at home
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • if staff are worried about their symptoms or those of a family member or colleague, please call NHS 111. They should not go to their GP or other healthcare environment
  • see further information and the Public Health England Blog and the NHS UK page