COVID-19 is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 and is mainly transmitted from human to human by breathing in droplets from the nose or mouth of an infected person or by touching the infected droplets on surfaces, then touching the eyes, nose or mouth. National and international spread of this virus has resulted in COVID-19 cases being reported worldwide.
SARS-CoV2, like all other viruses mutate (change) over time resulting in new forms (variants). SARS-CoV-2 and emerging variants of this virus are monitored carefully worldwide. Most are determined to be Variants of Interest (VOI) and are not generally a cause for concern. Others may be more infectious, cause more severe disease (for example, increased hospitalizations or deaths), or diagnostic tests, treatments or vaccine may be less effective. These variants are called Variants of Concern (VOC). VOC continue to circulate worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) provide details in their publication WHO Weekly Epidemiological Updates.
While some individuals who are infected with the virus will not experience any symptoms, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of a new continuous cough or high temperature or a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell. In most cases COVID-19 is a mild illness, but some individuals can develop breathing difficulties and more severe illness such as pneumonia; complications may be life-threatening. Those who are elderly or have underlying health problems are more likely to develop severe disease. For some people, COVID-19 can cause symptoms that last weeks or months after the infection has gone. This is sometimes called post-COVID-19 syndrome or "long COVID".
A number of COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use worldwide and significantly reduce the likelihood of severe illness, hospitalisation and death.
While mild symptoms can be managed at home, a number of treatments for severe COVID-19 are being used and further treatments continue to be evaulated in clinical trials.
To reduce the risk of coronavirus infection all travellers should:
To reduce the risk of passing coronavirus to others, anyone with respiratory symptoms should:
Travellers abroad should follow the local public health advice of their host country.
Current Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) travel advice should always be checked along with advice regarding risk of disease which is available on our Country Information pages.
Individuals entering or returning to the UK are required to follow additional UK border measures which may include self-isolation.