We offer medical advice to those affected by COVID-19. Book your appointment now and speak with a doctor in minutes.
Claudia Jackson (RN)
Dr Waseem Mohi
Next Review: Sep 1, 2025
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 or coronavirus disease is an infectious disease that is spread by the virus severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
For many people, COVID-19 symptoms are mild and go away without treatment, but in some people, such as the elderly, people with chronic health conditions, and those with weakened immune systems, COVID-19 can be serious or even life-threatening.
COVID-19 is highly contagious, meaning it is spread easily from one person to another.
When did COVID-19 start?
COVID-19 was first identified as a new type of coronavirus in Wuhan province, China, in December 2019. It was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on December 31st, 2019. On January 30th, 2020, WHO declared COVID-19 a global health emergency, and on March 11th, 2020, the virus was declared a global pandemic.
The first cases of COVID-19 in the UK occurred in January 2020.
Since COVID-19 was first identified, the virus has mutated into many new variants. This happens with all viruses and occurs when a virus changes and develops over time. Usually, these changes are minor, but some changes mean the virus may be more contagious, cause more severe illness, or be less responsive to vaccines.
The World Health Organisation constantly monitors new COVID-19 variants and alerts the public and health authorities about variants that could pose a threat to health. These are known as variants of concern (VOC). The latest VOC to be identified by WHO is the Omicron variant. Some previous VOCs include the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Symptoms of COVID-19 vary from person to person and depend on which variant you have. Many of the symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of other illnesses such as colds and flu.
Possible symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- difficulty breathing
- lack of energy (fatigue)
- muscle aches
- loss or change in your sense of taste or smell
- nausea (feeling sick)
- vomiting (being sick)
- blocked or runny nose
- sore throat
- loss of appetite
How long do COVID-19 symptoms last?
Most people with COVID-19 start to recover within a few days or weeks, and make a full recovery within 12 weeks, but some people have symptoms that continue for months or even years. This is known as long COVID. Long COVID is a new condition that is still being studied and scientists are still learning about why it happens, and how it can be prevented and treated.
What are the long-covid symptoms?
There is no test for long COVID, and diagnosis of the condition is based on your symptoms.
Symptoms may be different for everyone, but some common symptoms of long COVID include:
- extreme tiredness or fatigue
- loss of smell or taste
- shortness of breath
- muscle aches
Other long-term effects of COVID-19 may include:
- memory problems
- difficulty concentrating (brain fog)
- difficulty sleeping
- chest pain or tightness
- awareness of your own heartbeat, rapid or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
- depression and anxiety
- joint pain
- pins and needles
- tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears)
- nausea (feeling sick)
- stomach pain
- loss of appetite
- sore throat
- changes to your sense of smell or taste
How to treat COVID-19
The NHS offers antiviral or antibody treatment to people who meet all of the following criteria:
- have tested positive for COVID-19
- are aged 12 years or older
- have a high risk of serious illness from getting COVID-19
- have symptoms that are not getting better
Those at the highest risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 include people with:
- certain types of cancer
- chromosomal disorders that affect your immune system like Downs syndrome
- sickle cell disease
- certain blood disorders
- chronic or severe liver or kidney disease
- certain autoimmune or inflammatory diseases
- HIV or AIDS
- a weakened immune system (such as people who have had an organ transplant, or are having cancer treatment)
- certain conditions affecting the brain and nerves, like multiple sclerosis (MS) or Huntington’s disease
Treatments for COVID-19 include:
- nirmatrelvir and ritonavir (Paxlovid) is an antiviral medication that works by stopping the COVID-19 virus from growing and spreading in the body.
- remdesivir (Veklury) is an antiviral medication that works in a similar way to Paxlovid
- molnupiravir (Lagevrio) is an antiviral medication. It is given in the early stages of COVID-19 to help prevent serious illness.
- sotrovimab (Xevudy) behaves like a human antibody in the body. It attaches to the spike proteins of the COVID-19 virus and works by stopping the virus from entering the lungs and causing infection.
Can I treat my COVID-19 symptoms at home?
If your symptoms are mild, and you are not at high risk of serious illness, you may be able to treat your symptoms of COVID-19 at home. COVID-19 is highly contagious and if you test positive, you must self-isolate to avoid spreading the virus to other people.
To treat COVID-19 at home:
- get plenty of rest
- drink lots of fluids, especially water
- take painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to help with pain or fever
- if you have a cough or shortness of breath, sitting upright can help
Call your doctor if:
- your symptoms are getting worse
- you have difficulty breathing
- you have weakness, muscle aches, or extreme tiredness (fatigue)
- you feel shaky or shivery
- you have lost your appetite
- you are not able to carry out normal daily activities like cooking, washing, or getting dressed
- you have had symptoms for more than 4 weeks
When to call 999 or go to A&E immediately
You should call an ambulance or go to hospital immediately if you experience:
- sudden or severe difficulty breathing
- coughing up blood
- feeling cold and sweaty with pale or blotchy skin
- a rash that doesn’t fade when you press a glass against your skin (Glass test)
- agitation, drowsiness, or confusion
- peeing a lot less than usual, or not peeing at all
Online GP appointments for COVID-19 infections
COVID-19 is highly contagious and can spread easily to others. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with the virus you must take a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. If you test positive, you must self-isolate to prevent passing the virus to others.
Our GPs can advise on treating symptoms of COVID-19 at home and whether you may need further treatment. An online video appointment from your home reduces the risk of passing the virus to others during face-to-face contact.
Making an online video appointment is quick and easy at Medicspot. Simply click the link, choose a time and day that suits you, and have your consultation via video link from your phone wherever you are.
A consultation with one of our NHS-trained GPs costs £59 and appointments are available Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm.
Can a pharmacist help with COVID-19?
If you suspect you may have COVID-19, you should stay at home and self-isolate until you have taken a COVID-19 test. Do not visit your pharmacy in person as this can spread the virus to others. If you need to speak to a pharmacist, contact them online, or by telephone, until you are sure you do not have COVID-19.
The only way to know for sure that you do not have COVID-19 is to take a COVID-19 test.
At Medicspot, we provide a range of COVID-19 tests for work, travel, and other purposes including:
All our COVID-19 tests include free delivery and a Fit to Fly certificate if your result is negative.
World Health Organization: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) 2022 (Accessed 8th October 2022)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Symptoms of COVID-19 August 11th 2022 (Accessed 8th October 2022)
World Health Organization: Tracking SARS-CoV-2 variants October 4th 2022 (Accessed 8th October 2022)
NHS: Symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) June 22nd 2022 (Accessed 8th October 2022)
Medscape: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) September 15th 2022 (Accessed 8th October 2022)
British Foreign Policy Group: COVID-19 Timeline April 2021 (Accessed 8th October 2022)
NHS: Long-term effects of coronavirus (Long COVID) August 9th 2022 (Accessed 8th October 2022)
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