Last Updated: 30/03/2020 at 10:53.
There's a lot of information out there about coronavirus (Covid-19). Because the situation is changing so fast, it can be very confusing trying to keep up with the latest quality-assured information, so we've collected some of your most frequently asked questions right here.
What is a coronavirus and how is COVID-19 different?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses named for their spiky surface (corona means 'crown') which were first identified in the 1960s. There are seven different coronaviruses which can infect humans. Four of these are very common around the world. Sometimes, coronaviruses that affect animals can evolve and spread to humans. There are three examples of this:
SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus which causes COVID-19. COVID-19 produces more serious symptoms including fever, tiredness, and dry cough. It was unknown until the outbreak began in December 2019. Because it's new, there isn't a vaccine that will help our bodies fight it yet, so we should be very careful and try to delay its spread by self-isolating, quarantining, and distancing ourselves from others. If you want to know more, visit NHS Inform or the WHO (World Health Organisation).
My school has closed, what happens next?
Schools across the UK will close at the end of the day on Friday 20th March to slow the spread of COVID-19. It's unclear how long they'll be closed for, but the First Minister has said that she can't guarantee that schools will re-open before September.
Local councils are working hard to put in place different ways of learning and teaching. This might include being sent tasks by your teacher or classes taking place over the internet. Your school will be able to give you more detailed information about what is happening.
Not all schools will close completely. Some will be open with fewer teachers and support staff for some pupils, and the Government hopes to continue offering free school meals, but it's unclear exactly how this will work right now.
What about my exams?
The Scottish Government and the SQA have announced that this year's exams will not take place.
The SQA further announced on March 24th, that Higher and Advanced Higher students would not be required to submit any coursework towards their final grade.
They also said that National 5 students would not be required to submit coursework that would have been collected in April and May.
Some students may have already completed coursework for Higher and Advanced Higher courses and this work can still be used by teachers to consider estimated grades.
SQA have also already received some coursework for National 5 subjects and have been working to confirm how this will be marked.
SQA will work with teachers and lecturers and look at prelim grades, estimates and current coursework to award grades and will provide further updates on how this will be done as soon as possible.
Find out more on SQA's website.
"We appreciate this is a difficult and uncertain situation for applicants planning to start university in the autumn, and we are committed to work together to ensure that your hard work to date will not go to waste, and that no-one is unfairly impacted in this process by the COVID-19 virus." - UCAS
When should someone start self-isolating?
It's recommended that if you start displaying certain symptoms that are related to COVID-19, you should begin to self-isolate. The symptoms to look out for according to the current Government and NHS advice are:
- a high temperature/fever of above 37.8C – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back.
- a new, continuous cough – you've started coughing repeatedly.
What if I live with someone who has started showing these symptoms?
The advice being given is that everyone that you stay with should self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person starting showing symptoms. So if the person you live with started coughing a lot and/or had a fever on Thursday, you would all stay in self-isolation for 14 days after that point.
What if I start to get symptoms when everyone I live with has already started self-isolating for 14 days?
You will need to self-isolate for seven days after you started experiencing symptoms, no matter how many days you've self-isolated already.
What do you need to do to self-isolate?
Self-isolating means staying at home for seven days from the day you start to experience symptoms or 14 days from the day someone you live with shows symptoms. If someone you live with causes your household to self-isolate, and you later begin to show symptoms, start counting seven days from the day you yourself show symptoms. Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director for Scotland, shared this helpful illustration, which is also available in a more accessible format:
According to the NHS, if you're self-isolating, you should not:
- go to work, school or public areas
- use public transport or taxis
- have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home
- go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
You may use your garden if you have one. You can also exercise at home with these quick, 10-minute cardio workouts.
If you feel you need medical advice, do not go to your GP, as this could help the virus spread to other people. Do not phone your GP if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Instead, Call 111 or use the NHS coronavirus service.
What if I show symptoms and live with a vulnerable person?
The NHS describes 'vulnerable' people as those who:
- are aged 70 years or older
- has a long-term health condition (further information on what this means can be found on the Government website)
- receive the flu jab for medical reasons
- are pregnant
If you live with a vulnerable person, you should try and distance yourself from them. This might mean you, or they, live with a friend or relative for a while. If this isn't possible, stay at least two metres (three steps) away from them, open windows in shared areas, sleep in separate rooms if possible, and use different towels, including tea towels and hand towels.
Why do people need to self-isolate?
It helps to stop the virus from spreading further. By staying at home you protect everyone else: friends, family, and the wider community.
Can I use public transport?
Public transport is running on a reduced service. You should only be using public transport if you need to travel to work, and this is only if you cannot work from home. If you are self-isolating due to symptoms, you should avoid using both taxis and public transport.
How do I see my doctor?
Many doctors surgeries have now set up telephone and video consultations. If you feel like you need to see a doctor, phone your GP and follow their advice.
If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) do not phone your GP. Call 111 or use the NHS coronavirus service.
NHS Inform has lots of excellent information available online.
If you are showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) it's important that you don't go to a hospital, GP surgery, or pharmacy, unless you have been told to do so.
I can't go to work because I'm self-isolating. How do I get a sick note?
If you're experiencing the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does, you can get a note to let your employer know you aren't able to work because you need to self-isolate. If you have to stay at home but you feel well enough to work, you can ask your employer if you can work from home. If you can work from home, you will not need an isolation note. Get a self-isolation note from the NHS.
You can also get an isolation note for someone else.
Can I go outside?
You should only leave the house for one of four reasons:
- Shopping for basic necessities, like food and medicine, once a day at the most.
- Exercise like running, walking, or cycling no more than once a day. You should do this alone or with the people you live with and this should be done local to your house.
- Any medical need, for example going to a pharmacy, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.
- Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.
Even when doing these activities, you should spend as little time outside your home as possible. You should also make sure you are two metres apart from anyone you don't live with.
What about my pets?
Walking your dog counts as the one form of exercise people can do per day. If you stay with other people, you can all take it in turns to walk your dog so the dog gets more than one walk a day.
The Scottish Government have advised that it is accepted that dogs may need to be taken out more than once per day if they do not have access to a garden or other area to toilet, but you should follow the rules in relation to social distancing.
There is also official Government guidance on how to look after dogs, cats and other pets whether you have no symptoms or if you are self-isolating because you have symptoms.
All non-essential trips to vets should be avoided, but if your pet needs treatment you must call the vet before going to see them.
More information from Young Scot on Coronavirus (COVID-19)