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Coronavirus: Updates and information

Find out what support is available, how to offer help, and how to look after your wellbeing. Please continue to follow official NHS and government advice. Our offices and customer service centre remain closed at this time.

Coronavirus: Glossary of terms

Below are explanations of some terms you may be frequently hearing around the current coronavirus outbreak.

Coronavirus is the group name for a number of different viruses including the new strain currently spreading around the world which was first detected in China late last year.

Covid-19 is the name for the disease caused by the new strain of coronavirus.

Incubation is the time it takes for symptoms to appear after a person is infected. The World Health Organisation estimates the incubation period for Covid-19 to be between 1 and 14 days.

A pandemic is a disease that has spread to different countries and continents, usually affecting a large number of people.

Self-isolation is what people must do if they show any of the symptoms of coronavirus. This includes:

  • Staying indoors as much as possible
  • Avoiding contact with other people, including people in their home who have not shown any symptoms, for 7 days
  • Anyone living with people who are showing symptoms of coronavirus must self-isolate for 14 days

Shielding is a way to protect people who are extremely vulnerable from coming into contact with coronavirus by minimising all interaction between them and other people.

Social distancing is the steps being taken to limit the spread of the new coronavirus, which include:

  • Staying at home except for essential reasons like buying food and taking exercise once a day
  • Staying at least two metres away from other people in public
  • Closing schools, pubs, restaurants and other businesses
  • Working at home where possible

Underlying conditions are any long term illness or health problem that people may have, such as asthma, diabetes, heart conditions or cancer.