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UK European Consumer Centre

What is Coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a new disease that is spreading throughout the world at a rapid pace. It has changed the lives of millions of people and our website will help make sense of it all.

What You Need to Know

What is it?

Covid-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and is caused by a virus called coronavirus. It has resulted in diferring responses from individuals, from severe to very mild. So far, the indications suggest that the majority of people will experience a mild illness and eventually recover.

How does is spread?

As Covid-19 is a new illness, we still do not know how it spreads from person to person although similar viruses seem to spread in cough droplets.

This is why the official advice is to sneeze or cough into a tissue and put it in the bin immediately.

What are the symptoms?

Coronavirus symptoms are similar to cold and flu symptoms and the main characteristics of the virus are:


  • a persistent cough
  • a high temperature (around 37.8c or over)
  • shortness of breath

How do I avoid catching it?

There is no way you can avoid catching coronavirus but there are things you can do that might help:


  • cover your mouth with a tissue (or if you don't have a tissue, a sleeve will do) when you sneeze or cough and put the tissue in the bin
  • try to avoid close contact with people who seem unwell (the recommended guidance suggests we allow around 2 metres)
  • wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is unavailable
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if you have not washed your hands (similar viruses tend to enter the body this way) 


Self-isolation if where you stay indoors for a certain period of time to avoid spreading the illness. Many have taken to voluntary self-isolation. The idea is that it limits the spread of the virus by limiting social contact.

You may be asked to self-isolate by a medical professional and it is important to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those around you, that you adhere to this advice. 

Important Update: 19/03/2020

Please note that due to the coronavirus outbreak, the staff at the UK ECC will be working from home from w/c 23 March 2020. At the moment we are unable to divert phone calls to home numbers so once our phone lines close at 4pm on 19 March, we will operate an electronic service only.

This means that we will not have access to phone calls or post so please send in your enquiries via email.

Thank you for understanding in this matter. 


Email Address:

Update: 21 April  2020

The Government announced last month that the people of the UK will only be able to leave their homes for the these few, very limited, reasons:


  • Shopping for essentials (such as medicines and food) and as infrequently as possible
  • One form of exercise a day - this includes walking, cycling, or running
  • Travelling to and from work -only where absolutely necessary where work cannot be done from home


All non-essential shops will be closed (such as clothing, and electronic shops) and we are required to stay indoors as much as possible.  

Libraries, outdoor gyms, playgrounds, and places of worship will all close but public parks will remain open to allow people to exercise.

Gatherings of more than two people will also be banned (with the exception of the people you share your house with, or if it is essential for work).

Social events, such as weddings, baptisms, and other religious ceremonies will be stopped. Funerals will still be allowed to take place, but with members of the immediate family only.

The aim of these measures is to halt the spread of coronavirus. The less physical contact we have with each other, the less likely it will be transmitted between people. The Police will ensure these measures are being adhered to by everyone.

These measures were initially in place for at least three weeks from 23 March 2020 but were extended for another three weeks. The Government will then review the effectiveness of these measures and decide whether to continue or relax them.