Your COVID-19 questions answered

Questions about Test and Trace and staying safe

 

NHS Test and Trace helps anyone with symptoms of coronavirus to get tested quickly and then traces those who have been in recent close contact with someone who has tested positive. These people are also asked to self-isolate; if any of those people become infectious, then they will not pass it on to others. This stops the infection from spreading.

Test and Trace data will also feed into the Local Outbreak Management Plan by identifying any potential outbreaks within an area. Getting this data quickly will allow early intervention measures to be put in place in order to protect communities and, again, prevent further the spread of the virus.

More information on Test and Trace can be found on the NHS website, and government guidance on the service is available on the GOV.UK website. 

If you suspect that your or someone in your household has any symptoms of coronavirus, you must stay at home, self-isolate and the symptomatic person should be tested.

If the test is positive, then the person should self-isolate in line with the national guidelines. If this is someone staying with you, this may be at your home, or it may need to be back at his or her own home, close to his or her own medical support.

More information is available on the NHS website.

Call 119 for details on how to book and where to go for a test. Please do not ignore your symptoms.

If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you must follow Government guidance and self isolate, get tested and follow further advice. Please do not ignore your symptoms.

Testing can be accessed by going to the NHS website or by calling 119. 

You will be able to either book an appointment at a drive-through or walk through test site or ask for a home test kit. More information is available on the NHS website.

If you feel unwell please call 111, or your regular GP.

The latest government guidance is available on the GOV.UK website.

On 22 September the Government announced new measures to suppress the virus, including tighter rules on wearing face coverings and higher fines for breaking the ‘rule of six’ (which now also applies to indoor team sports).

Businesses selling food or drink now have to close by 10pm and the maximum number of people allowed to attend wedding ceremonies and receptions will be lowered from 30 to 15 from Monday 28 September.

Some of these new restrictions will now be set out in the law, with penalties for those who don’t comply. Further details on the changes are available on the GOV.UK website.

We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of coronavirus. Following the national government guidelines including regular hand washing, good respiratory hygiene and social distancing will all help to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

A test for coronavirus is free. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus you must follow government guidance and stay at home, get tested and follow further advice.

People can access a test by going to the NHS website or by calling 119. You will either be able to book an appointment at a drive-through or walk through test site or ask for a home test kit. More information is available on the NHS website.

There are various test sites across Plymouth. If you have booked a drive-through or walk-through test, the location of the test site will be given to you at the time of booking. Alternatively, you can order a home testing kit.

Plymouth City Council produces a weekly dashboard outlining the number of confirmed cases in Plymouth and number of deaths. Find out more on our Position in Plymouth page.

You can also access the latest figures via Public Health England and the Office of National Statistics.

Public Health England produces a daily dashboard of figures relating to reported COVID-19 cases. Data is available at national, regional and local authority level – figures for Plymouth can be found under Upper Tier Local Authority (UTLA). You can explore the dashboard on the GOV.UK website.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) produces a weekly update of death registrations and occurrences by local authority and health boards, this is available on the ONS website.

As of 7 July 2020 new infections are considered to be at very low levels for the city. The Local Outbreak Management Plan will allow for early identification and intervention of future outbreaks, ensuring that any further spread of the virus is minimised.

As national lockdown eases, there have been a number of national media stories suggesting Plymouth is seeing a significant rise in cases of COVID-19. Dr Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth, issued a statement on the situation to address these concerns and misleading stories - read the statement.

Coronavirus can make anyone seriously ill but there are specific groups that are at higher risk of medical complications related to COVID-19. That does include the elderly, as well as people with some underlying health problems.

The NHS sets out who is considered vulnerable and what they should do to protect themselves.

If you have any concerns, you should discuss these with your GP. It is everyone’s responsibility to keep themselves and others safe through social distancing and good hygiene practice.

At the beginning of the autumn term, schools reopened to all age groups. Every effort is being made to ensure that schools, like other public environments, are safe and COVID-19 free. A range of measures are being taken to reduce the risk and keep children safe and these are regularly reviewed. The Government guidance for education and childcare is available on the GOV.UK website.

There is separate advice for children who are shielding or live in a household of someone shielding on the GOV.UK website.

There is also lots of helpful advice on our information for parents page.

Care homes are known to be settings at higher risk of an outbreak. Each care home will have its own policy in relation to keeping its residents safe but given the higher risk of an outbreak in these settings, general visits are still restricted. This may change over time, but please talk to the care home about any precautions you may need to take before you visit to keep your relatives safe.

In England, an option to form a support bubble with one other household is available for people who live on their own or for single parents with dependents – households with just one adult in essence. Although support bubbles do not need to socially distance, they must be exclusive and be in line with the government guidance.

You must follow social distancing guidelines if meeting anyone outside of your support bubble. More information is available on the GOV.UK website.

Yes, as long as the correct social distancing rules are followed. The rule of six came into effect on 14 September. In England, when meeting up with family or friends outside your household or support bubble, you must not meet in groups or more than six people. This applies to both indoor and outdoor gatherings. There are exceptions, which are listed by GOV.UK.

Unless you are meeting as part of a support bubble, social distancing guidelines must still be followed. Government guidance relating to what you can and cannot do is available on the GOV.UK website.

 

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you may be advised to stay at home as much as possible and keep interactions outside to a minimum. This is called ‘shielding’.

The Government paused the shielding arrangements on 1 August because transmission of COVID-19 in the community had gone down. Guidance will be available from our Public Health Team if transmission in the community starts to rise.

Shielding guidance is advice and not the law and full details on the latest guidelines are available on the GOV.UK website. 

While shielding is paused and the National Shielding Service has stopped, you can still receive support if you need it. If you need help please call 01752 668000 or more information is available on the Plymouth Online Directory (POD) website.

If you believe that a Plymouth business is operating unsafely, please use this link to the Covid-19 query form or contact Environmental Health with details of the business, email public.protection@plymouth.gov.uk .Please get in contact even if you are unsure as it is important that any concerns are investigated in order to keep our communities safe.

We have seen a rise in the number of positive tests for COVID-19 in Plymouth in recent weeks, in line with the picture nationally. This highlights the risk the virus still poses to all our community and the need for us all to ensure we keep up the measures to keep Plymouth safe.

On 22 September the Government announced new measures to suppress the virus, some of which will now be set out in the law, with penalties for those who don’t comply. Further details are available on the GOV.UK website.

We also have a Local Outbreak Management Plan for Plymouth, which provides a framework to protect people while we adapt to living alongside COVID-19. It sets out early intervention measures to be used, helping to limit the spread of the virus and is supported by real-time data provided through the Test and Trace system, helping any outbreaks to be identified.

We are working with local businesses to ensure their operations are COVID-secure to protect their customers and employees. We are also supporting those who are considered vulnerable. We encourage everyone to follow social distancing and hygiene measures to protect our communities.

It depends on several factors. If you have an underlying health condition, you should follow government guidance or speak to your GP. Some people are more vulnerable than others. More information is available on the NHS website.

If a contact tracer contacts you it is important that you follow their instructions in order to keep yourself safe and protect others. This may involve self isolation.

Yes, as long as the correct social distancing rules are followed. The rule of six came into effect on 14 September. In England, when meeting up with family or friends outside your household or support bubble, you must not meet in groups or more than six people. This applies to both indoor and outdoor gatherings. There are exceptions, which are listed by GOV.UK.

You can travel as far as needed but it is important to take hygiene and safety precautions and avoid using public transport unless essential. If visiting Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland it is important you follow the guidance set out for the devolved administration.

Government guidance relating to what you can and cannot do is available on the GOV.UK website.

In England, you must wear a face covering by law in the following settings:

  • public transport (aeroplanes, trains, trams and buses)
  • taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs)
  • transport hubs (airports, rail and tram stations and terminals, maritime ports and terminals, bus and coach stations and terminals)
  • shops and supermarkets (places which offer goods or services for retail sale or hire)
  • shopping centres (malls and indoor markets)
  • auction houses
  • premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink (see exemptions)
  • post offices, banks, building societies, high-street solicitors and accountants, credit unions, short-term loan providers, savings clubs and money service businesses
  • estate and lettings agents
  • theatres
  • premises providing personal care and beauty treatments (hair salons, barbers, nail salons, massage centres, tattoo and piercing parlours)
  • premises providing veterinary services
  • visitor attractions and entertainment venues (museums, galleries, cinemas, theatres, concert halls, cultural and heritage sites, aquariums, indoor zoos and visitor farms, bingo halls, amusement arcades, adventure activity centres, indoor sports stadiums, funfairs, theme parks, casinos, skating rinks, bowling alleys, indoor play areas including soft-play areas)
  • libraries and public reading rooms
  • places of worship
  • funeral service providers (funeral homes, crematoria and burial ground chapels)
  • community centres, youth centres and social clubs
  • exhibition halls and conference centres
  • public areas in hotels and hostels
  • storage and distribution facilities

The Government also advises people to use a face covering in enclosed public spaces where social distancing may be difficult and where you will be in contact with people you would not usually meet.

There are some circumstances, for health, age or equality reasons, where people are not expected to wear face coverings. Please be mindful and respectful of such circumstances, noting that some people are less able to wear face coverings, and that the reasons for this may not be visible to others. A list of exemptions is available on the GOV.UK website.

Face coverings can be bought online as well as in many shops or you may be able to make your own. Face coverings should be washed after every use. Remember to take your face covering off by the strings (if your covering has them), and wash your hands afterwards. We have produced some guidance on how to use, maintain and make face coverings. Read our newsroom article for more information.

Remember that face coverings are not the same as medical face masks used as part of Personal Protective Equipment, so social distancing and hygiene practices should still be observed.

Yes. A face covering can be as simple as a scarf or a bandana tied behind your head to cover your nose and mouth. It is important to ensure that any covering allows you to breathe comfortably. Face coverings are not the same as medical face masks used as part of Personal Protective Equipment, therefore social distancing and hygiene practices should still be observed.

Generally no. For some, gloves will form part of the recommended Personal Protective Equipment requirements. In most situations, however, such as daily errands, gloves are not considered necessary. It is more important to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, and observe social distancing, than wear gloves. Gloves are meant for a single use, so prolonged wear could mean they become contaminated and /or give the wearer a false sense of security. 

 

Each employer will have a different policies relating to sick pay and self-isolation but the Government states that employees can get Statutory Sick Pay if you cannot work because you are self-isolating or shielding. You will not be entitled to SSP is you are self-isolating in line with quarantine measures after entering or returning to the UK. More information is available on the GOV.UK website.

WHO states: “There is currently no evidence that people can catch COVID-19 from food or food packaging. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness and the transmission route is through person-to-person contact and through direct contact with respiratory droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes.” More information is available on the WHO website.

In addition, the Food Standards Agency has produced specific consumer advice relating to COVID-19 and take away food and is available on the GOV.UK website.

There’s no evidence that anyone has caught COVID-19 from items of post, but the virus has been found to live on paper and plastic for a short time. You should make sure that you wash your hands after touching anything that has recently been handled by another person, or after opening post or parcels and disposing of the outer layers. If you are concerned, then you can wipe down with an antiviral spray or set them aside for a short time; WHO report that the virus lives for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel and less than 24 hours on cardboard.

There’s no evidence that anyone has caught COVID-19 from items of post, but the virus has been found to live on paper and plastic for a short time. You should make sure that you wash your hands after touching anything that has recently been handled by another person, or after opening post or parcels and disposing of the outer layers. If you are concerned, then you can wipe down with an antiviral spray or set them aside for a short time; WHO report that the virus lives for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel and less than 24 hours on cardboard.

In terms of groceries, WHO states, “there is currently no confirmed case of COVID-19 transmitted through food or food packaging.” Find out more on the WHO website.

And that food deliveries are safe as long as the provider follows good personal and food hygiene practices. Hands should be washed with soap and water, after accepting food/grocery deliveries. Find out more on the WHO website.

You should get a test if you develop symptoms of coronavirus. The main symptoms are:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature,
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
  • You can also get a test if:
  • you live in England and have been told to have a test before you go into hospital, for example, for surgery
  • your local council asks you to get a test
  • you’re taking part in a government pilot project

The test is only reliable if you have coronavirus symptoms so it is important to only get a test if you develop symptoms or if have been asked to get a test. This will help make sure that those people who need a test can get one.

Do not use this service to get a test if you’re travelling abroad. You can pay for a private test.

More information is available on GOV.UK.

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus you should get a test as soon as possible. The test needs to be carried out within five days of the symptoms appearing.

During days one to four you can get tested either at a test site or by ordering a home test kit. A home test kit must be ordered by 3pm on day four.  On day five you will need to go to a test site.

More information is available on GOV.UK.

If you cannot get a test, you must self-isolate for 14 days because it will have been more than five days since your symptoms started. It is important to stay at home, even if you feel better.

More information is available on GOV.UK.

The test is only reliable if you have coronavirus symptoms so you should not arrange for a test unless you develop symptoms. The main symptoms are:

  • a new continuous cough
  • a high temperature,
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)

The service is currently very busy. If you cannot book a test now or at the desired location or time, try again in a few hours. Only get a test if you have coronavirus symptoms or have been asked to get a test. This will help make sure people who need a test can get one.

Self-isolation means you must stay at home and not leave for:

  • 14 days if you have been in contact with someone testing positive for coronavirus
  • 10 days if you have tested positive for coronavirus

From 28 September, you could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for COVID-19 or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate.

If you need help with groceries or medicines you should ask family or friends or order them online or by phone. Delivery drivers should not come into your home, so make sure you ask them to leave items outside for collection. Further guidance on accessing food and essential supplies is available on the GOV.UK website.

 

Your household does not need to self-isolate with you if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, but they should take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing, handwashing and respiratory hygiene.

If you develop symptoms within this time, you should arrange to have a test and hour household should start isolating at home until you know your test result.

More information is available on GOV.UK.

The NHS Test and Trace service notifies and advises contacts of those testing positive accordingly. If you have not been contacted, you do not need to self-isolate.

More information is available on GOV.UK.

You should self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of your symptoms. If you have tested positive but do not have symptoms, you should self-isolate for 10 days starting from the day your test was taken. If you live with others, all other household members need to stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

More information is available on GOV.UK.

Yes, you must stay at home and get a test. Your household will need to self-isolate until the test result is known.

Yes, you must remain self-isolated for 14 days even if you receive a negative test result as symptoms can take up to 14 days to appear.

The new NHS app for test and trace launched on 24 September and notifies users if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. It also allows users to check-in to venues, as well as report symptoms.

This app is an important tool in stopping the spread of coronavirus by working alongside the existing contact tracing programme. By tracking the virus, we can understand where and how quickly the virus is spreading in order to respond swiftly and prevent further transmission.

More information is available from the NHS.

By downloading and using the app, you can:

  • receive an alert if you’ve been near other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus
  • check the level of coronavirus risk in your postcode district
  • check-in to a venue and be alerted if you have visited a venue where somebody else has tested positive for coronavirus
  • check if you have coronavirus symptoms and see if you need to book a test
  • book a test and get your result quickly
  • keep track of your self-isolation countdown and access relevant advice.

The data is on your own phone – it is not transferred to a central point. If you are contacted by track and trace it is up to you whether you share that data or not – bearing in mind it would be helpful to do so.

For app users, more information on the NHS Covid-19 app is available on the NHS website. More help for businesses and organisations including instructional posters is available on the NHS website.

This app can help make it easier for you to collect your customers’ or visitors’ details.

Organisations will need to download and display an individual venue QR code near the entrance, along with a poster telling customers what to do.

Create an individual Coronavirus NHS QR code for your venue.

And find more help for businesses and organisations including instructional posters.

You do also need to ensure that customers not using the app can check-in manually as well.

We are here to help. If you have any issues, concerns or need advice on coronavirus, please email the Public Health Team at covid19@plymouth.gov.uk or call 01752 668000.

Venues that must collect customer data are:

  • hospitality venues, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
  • tourism and leisure venues, including hotels, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks
  • close contact services, including hairdressers, barbershops and tailors
  • facilities provided by local authorities, including town halls and civic centres for events, community centres, libraries and children’s centres
  • places of worship, including use for events and other community activities

It does not apply to those premises where a service is supplied and goods are taken off site immediately, for example a food and drink outlet providing a takeaway.

The person who tests positive will be contacted by NHS Track and Trace. They will be given the option of sharing the data on their phone. The name of your venue will not be shared with others who may be infected. Instead, they will be notified that they have been in contact or close to someone who has tested positive. They will be asked to self-isolate.

The customer can scan the QR code even without an internet signal. The data is then logged on their own phone. But they will need to have downloaded the app prior to the visit.

The rule of six came into effect on 14 September. In England, when meeting up with family or friends outside your household or support bubble, you must not meet in groups or more than six people. This applies to both indoor and outdoor gatherings. There are exceptions, which are listed by GOV.UK.