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COVID 19 - What is it and how do I get a test?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause anything from a common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

COVID-19 is probably, overall, more at the cold and flu-like end of the spectrum of these infections.

To date about 80% (80 in 100) of patients recover completely with no treatment.  About 1 in 6 people get difficulty in breathing severe enough to need to attend hospital and about 2% (2 in 100) of people, particularly those with cancer, existing lung or heart problems might die from this infection (

How is COVID-19 spread?

The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets.

Reducing the chance of infection and transmission

Since it is spread by droplets, good hand hygiene is the top priority in preventing transmission of COVID-19, like most respiratory viruses.  When out and about, alcohol-based hand-gel can be used to sanitise your hands.  Washing your hands, thoroughly and frequently, with soap and water throughout the day will also help reduce the chance of infection.

Should I wear a mask?

There are different rules on face coverings and masks across the UK. It all depends on the persons age and what they are doing. Here's a guide to the latest rules:,a%20mask%20difficult%2C%20then%20you%20don%27t%20have%20to.

Am I specifically at risk of catching COVID-19 with my immune deficiency?

Having many immune problems does not specifically predispose you to increased risk of acquiring this type of viral infection, the risk comes from being exposed to it.

Are people with primary immunodeficiency, such as CGD,at greater risk of becoming very sick?

As indicated by our advice on your risk level {link to latest advice page}, specific primary immunodeficiency (PID) conditions and major health problems as a consequence of PID, or as well as PID, are the major risk factors alongside increasing age.

Should my partner or I stop going to work?

The plans for isolation and social distancing are to reduce the probability that members of the household will be exposed to COVID-19.  The government advice is that everyone should now reduce unnecessary travel and group gatherings, and work from home where possible. This is to reduce exposure to the virus.

I think I have COVID-19, what do I do? 

Stay calm; the majority of people do not have severe disease.  Maintain household hygiene measures to protect those around you but isolate yourself as much as possible.

Check your symptoms on 111.NHS.UK/Covid-19 or NHS24 service, if in Scotland, for the latest advice.

For most patients who are following basic measures of rehydration and medicine to lower temperature who are improving no further action will be necessary.  If you are not getting better check again with NHS111/24 and then contact your PID centre to see if they need to provide more specific advice.

I have a PID and think a household member has COVID-19, what do I do? 

Stay calm; the majority of people do not have severe disease.  Maintain household hygiene measures to protect the person with a PID.  The current advice is to manage the person at risk somewhere else if possible (e.g. they go to a family member).  Where this is not possible e.g. a child with PID looked after by a parent with COVID-19, then minimising contact as much as possible, ensuring hand and household hygiene are key.

Check 111.NHS.UK/Covid-19 or NHS24 for the latest advice.

If your family member is not getting better contact NHS111/NHS24 and follow their advice.

I think I have COVID-19.  Can I go to my Immunologist for review? 

Access online 111.NHS.UK or NHS24 and follow their advice. Contact your immunology centre by phone to update them if you are not getting better. Hospitals now have specific arrangements for receiving patients with suspected COVID-19 and these are outlined on NHS 111/24.  You should not be attending your immunology centre with suspected COVID-19.

The advice is to avoid unnecessary travel, should I go to my regular outpatient appointments?

To reduce the risk to patients of acquiring COVID-19, most hospitals are now reviewing patients wherever possible by telephone.  Some patients will need to attend in person and hospitals are doing all they can to protect those patients and staff from COVID-19.  Specific arrangements for blood tests taken outside of booked clinics are being made in some centres.  Centres may send you a message to actively confirm altered arrangements.  If you have an upcoming appointment and are unsure, contact the clinic booking number for your centre.

Keep up to date

It is important for the whole of society to keep themselves informed. Everyone should follow the general advice given by the Government.

Updated 6th November 2020