Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Symptoms and what to do

COVID-19 symptoms can include:
  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) – a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu.

Most people feel better within a few days or weeks of their first COVID-19 symptoms and make a full recovery within 12 weeks. For some people, it can be a more serious illness and their symptoms can last longer.

Babies and children

Call 111 if you're worried about a baby or child under 5.

If your child seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call 999.

Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.

Self isolation information

Read Welsh Government advice Self-isolation: guidance for people with COVID-19 and their contacts

Advice for people at high risk

Who is at high risk from coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people, the risk is higher.

At some point during the COVID-19 pandemic you may have been told you were at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 (sometimes called clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable). You may also have been advised to stay at home (shield).

For most people at high risk from COVID-19, vaccination has significantly reduced this risk. You can follow the same advice as everyone else on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.

Some people continue to be at high risk from COVID-19, despite vaccination.

People who are still at high risk

You or your child may continue to be at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, despite vaccination, if you have:

  • Down's syndrome
  • certain types of cancer (such as a blood cancer like leukaemia or lymphoma)
  • sickle cell disease
  • certain conditions affecting your blood
  • chronic kidney disease (CKD) stage 4 or 5
  • severe liver disease
  • had an organ or bone marrow transplant
  • certain autoimmune or inflammatory conditions (such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease)
  • HIV or AIDS and have a weakened immune system
  • a condition affecting your immune system
  • a rare condition affecting the brain or nerves (multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Huntington’s disease or myasthenia gravis)
  • a severe problem with the brain or nerves, such as cerebral palsy
  • severe or multiple learning disabilities (or you're on the learning disability register)
  • a weakened immune system due to a medical treatment (such as steroid medicine, biological therapy, chemotherapy or radiotherapy)

You may be advised to take extra steps or follow additional advice to protect yourself from COVID-19.

Additional advice and services for people at high risk

Some people are currently eligible to receive the range of new treatment options within the community. These will be made available to NHS patients at greater risk from COVID-19. These treatments are a further measure in addition to vaccinations. 

The National Antiviral Service Cymru (NAVS) is co-ordinating the supply of treatments for COVID-19 for the most vulnerable individuals across Wales who have not been admitted to hospital. You can access the self-referral portal here.

Please see Welsh Government’s guidance for more information.

Other things that can affect your risk

Research shows there are other things that can make you more likely to get seriously ill from COVID-19, including if you are:

  • aged 60 or over – your risk increases as you get older
  • pregnant
  • not vaccinated against COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against getting seriously ill from COVID-19 if you are aged 60 or over, pregnant or unvaccinated.

Advice on keeping yourself safe if you're at high risk from coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • For most people who are at high risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus (COVID-19), vaccination has significantly reduced this risk.
  • You can follow the same advice as everyone else on how to avoid catching and spreading COVID-19.
  • But some people continue to be at high risk from COVID-19, despite vaccination.
  • If you or your child continue to be at high risk from COVID-19, there are extra steps you can take to help reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 and keep yourself safe.


  • get vaccinated against COVID-19 – everyone aged 5 and over can book vaccination appointments now
  • continue to wear a face covering in shops, on public transport and when it's hard to stay away from other people (particularly indoors or in crowded places)
  • continue to stay at least 2 meters away from people (particularly indoors or in crowded places)
  • try to work from home if you can, or talk to your employer about how they can help reduce your risk at work
  • wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitiser regularly throughout the day
  • limit the number of people you meet inside and avoid crowded places
  • meet people outside if possible
  • open doors and windows to let in fresh air if meeting people inside
  • think about asking people to wear a face covering if meeting them inside
  • try not to meet people who have tested positive for COVID-19 until 10 days after they got their positive test result
  • try not to meet people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and have a temperature or feel unwell until they feel better
  • think about asking people to take a rapid lateral flow test if meeting them inside


  • try not to meet people who have tested positive for COVID-19 until 10 days after they got their positive test result
  • try not to meet people who have symptoms of COVID-19 and have a temperature or feel unwell until they feel better


Coronavirus in children

Children can get coronavirus (COVID-19), but they seem to get it less often than adults and it's usually less serious.

What to do if your child seems very unwell

Children and babies will still get illnesses that can make them very unwell quickly. It's important to get medical help if you need it.

Call NHS 111 Wales or your GP surgery if your child:

  • is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 38C or higher, or you think they have a fever
  • is 3 to 6 months old and has a temperature of 39C or higher, or you think they have a fever
  • has other signs of illness, such as a rash, as well as a high temperature (fever)
  • has a high temperature that's lasted for 5 days or more
  • does not want to eat, or is not their usual self and you're worried
  • has a high temperature that does not come down with paracetamol
  • is dehydrated – for example, nappies are not very wet, sunken eyes, and no tears when they're crying

Call 999 if your child:

  • has a stiff neck
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press a glass against it (use the "glass test" from Meningitis Now)
  • is bothered by light
  • has a seizure or fit for the first time (they cannot stop shaking)
  • has unusually cold hands and feet
  • has pale, blotchy, blue or grey skin
  • has a weak, high-pitched cry that's not like their usual cry
  • is drowsy and hard to wake
  • is extremely agitated (does not stop crying) or is confused
  • finds it hard to breathe and sucks their stomach in under their ribs
  • has a soft spot on their head that curves outwards
  • is not responding like they usually do, or not interested in feeding or usual activities

Pregnant women and new parents

It is natural to feel a range of emotions when you’re pregnant, become new parents or are a parent of a young child.  Changes to services and daily routines, have for some people, caused extra stress and worry. 

If you are pregnant and have been offered a COVID-19 vaccine, information about your options are available from Public Health Wales and Welsh Government.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have also produced information for pregnant women and their families.

Vaccine facts and Q&A is also available on the Royal College of Midwives website.



Vaccine & Pass

Leaflets about the COVID-19 vaccine.

You can view information on what to expect after your COVID-19 vaccination by visiting the Public Health Wales website.

Please note as we are not responsible for arranging the Covid vaccination or booster appointment, please refer to your appointment letter for contact details of your local vaccination centre, which has been sent on behalf of your Local Health Board.

You can view information here on how to show proof that you have had your COVID Vaccine NHS COVID Pass: prove your vaccination status

Long Covid

Post COVID – 19 Syndrome / Long COVID

Symptoms after acute COVID – 19 are very variable and wide ranging. If you are suffering with ongoing symptoms, you may hear it called Long COVID or even Post COVID-19 Syndrome. There is at this point no medical definition or list of expected symptoms, two people with long COVID can have very different experiences.

Below we have gathered information to aid you through your recovery.

Managing the effects of COVID-19:

Effects on your body:

  • Breathlessness
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Taste and Smell
  • Voice & Swallowing
  • Musculoskeletal, shoulder and back pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Stomach pain
  • Skin rashes
  • Earache
  • Sore throat
  • Tinnitus

Effects on your Mind:

  • Managing fear, anxiety & Depression
  • Coping with frustrations
  • Memory and concentration – ‘Brain fog’
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Dizziness

Other Conditions:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory
  • Neurological

As can be seen, there can be many associated symptoms to deal with, following the advice below could help:

Self – Management

  • Set yourself realistic goals, try not to over stretch yourself.
  • If you are worried about your symptoms or need support in managing them yourselves contact 111 Wales / speak with your Primary Care Service / GP Surgery

Caring for myself:

Eating well

Many people will experience loss of appetite and reduced food intake when unwell with COVID and during their recovery. It is normal to feel tired after being unwell, and recovery can take some time. You may find that you have difficulties with shopping, preparing food and difficulty eating your normal portion sizes. This may be because you feel tired or weak. You may have some new symptoms associated with COVID like smell and taste changes, shortness of breath dry mouth, nausea, and constipation. This can make it difficult to get the right nutrition you need to help you do your day-to-day activities and could delay recovery.

Why is it important to eat well following illness?

Eating well is important as your body needs energy, protein, vitamins and minerals to help you recover. Having a good intake of protein and energy rich foods supports you with rebuilding muscles, maintaining your immune system and increasing your energy levels to allow you to do your usual activities.

Taste and smell changes - these are usually short – term but can still have a real effect on how well you eat. For further information click here Taste and Smell | Your COVID Recovery

Shortness of Breath

  • Try and eat little and often.
  • Try to have drinks in-between meals instead of with your meals.
  • Sometimes, soft, and moist foods can be easier to manage when you are tired or feeling a little breathless.

Dry Mouth

  • Take regular sips of fluids throughout the day.
  • Add sauces to foods, for example, gravy, cheese / white sauce, mayonnaise, salad cream, yoghurt or dips.
  • Suck on sugar-free sweets or chew sugar free gum to help increase saliva production.
  • If your mouth is sore, contact your GP/pharmacist who may be able to request or prescribe medication to treat this.


  • Take your time at mealtimes.
  • Soft and moist food can be easier to manage when you are tired or feeling breathless.
  • Ready meals can be helpful if you are too tired to cook.


You may experience constipation as a side effect to the medication you have been prescribed or due to being less active than normal.

  • Keep well hydrated.
  • Aim for six-eight glasses of fluid throughout the day.
  • Choose foods higher in fibre, such as, porridge oats, nuts, seeds, beans and pulses and fruit and vegetables.
  • Speak to your pharmacist who may be able to prescribe a suitable laxative.

Sleeping Well

Why might I have problems sleeping? Many people recovering from COVID notice that their sleep has changed when compared to their sleep before they became unwell.

Some people find it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, and others find they wake up earlier than usual and cannot get back to sleep. It might be that you are waking up feeling unrefreshed, like you have not slept at all, in which case you might find it helpful to also read the information on fatigue.

There are many reasons why your sleep may have changed because of COVID.

If you have been an in-patient in hospital, this can disrupt the natural sleep cycle because:

  • A lack of natural daylight can interfere with the production of a chemical in our brain called melatonin. It is this chemical that makes us feel sleepy.
  • Hospitals are noisy, busy places. There are always people around and it can be noisy with alarms beeping on equipment, especially in intensive care units. This means patients can be easily disturbed (even more so if they are light sleepers to begin with).
  • You are sleeping in a hospital bed which may not be as comfortable as your own bed.
  • The medications that have been used to treat you can impact on your sleep too.
  • If you have had a stay in hospital, you might have had some very distressing experiences.
  • For some people, these experiences can replay in their mind as thoughts or dreams about what happened, making it hard to fall or stay asleep.
  • This is made worse if you had delirium (e.g.hallucinations, delusions and confusion whilst you were unwell).

Even if you have not been in hospital, being ill at home can get in the way of a good night’s sleep.

Symptoms of COVID include breathlessness, a dry cough and fever; each of which can make it difficult to sleep. Another common symptom is fatigue which can lead to daytime sleeping which disrupts the day/night cycle. It is natural to feel frightened about being unwell with COVID. This fear puts the body into a state of high alert (also called fight-flight). This prepares the body and mind for action, not rest and can make it almost impossible to sleep.

Sleep Hygiene Tips:


  • Get up at the same time every morning, even on weekends and holidays.
  • Keep a notepad by the side of the bed to jot down things that come to mind. This will help you to park the thought and return to sleep.
  • If it is possible, try to have the bedroom at a cool temperature.


  • Avoid taking naps if you can.
  • Do not go to bed hungry or thirsty.

For further information please click here: Sleeping Well | Your COVID Recovery

Getting moving again

Why is getting moving again important?

After being in hospital or spending long periods of time doing less than normal, your muscles will be much weaker, and you will certainly be less fit than you were.

It is important to get back to your previous level of activity or possibly aim to be more active!

How will I know if I am less fit than I was?

  • You will find doing everyday jobs that you used to do easily, tiring.
  • Walking up and down the stairs may make your legs ache and you may be quite short of breath.
  • Going for even a short walk, is exhausting.

Why is doing some exercise important?

  • By being active and starting some exercise you become stronger and fitter. You may notice your tiredness increase and some breathlessness at first, but these should improve the stronger you get; this is a normal response to doing more exercise for all of us.
  • You will feel better in yourself and can do more of the things that are important to you.
  • Regular activity will help to minimise pain and stiffness in joints and will help you regain muscle strength.
  • Being active during the day may help you sleep better.
  • Over time regular exercise will help you manage chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
  • The more time spent being physically active, the greater the health benefits.

What can I do after discharge from hospital?

  • It is important that you start being active as soon as possible after discharge from hospital. This will help improve both your mental and physical health.
  • It is likely you will only be able to manage small amounts of exercise and activity at the beginning of your recovery.
  • Regular physical activity along with eating well can help you recover, build your muscle strength, and become independent again.

How do I start being active again?

  • Start slowly and build up your level of activity over time.
  • Try to do little and often, allow rest between activities and do not overdo it.
  • Reduce sitting time. Try standing up every hour and marching on spot.
  • Set yourself small goals that you can do in the day. You can start with small tasks such as making a drink or something to eat.
  • Aim for a daily walk. Do walk with someone until you are confident to go out on your own.
  • Try making a walk part of your daily routine to give your day structure.
  • Do not worry if you need to stop and rest, that is a normal part of recovering and getting strong again.
  • If you have an exercise bike at home this might be a good alternative to walking, particularly on wet days.

What should I be aiming for with my walking?

  • You should aim to build up to 30 minutes of activity at least five days a week, but this is not going to happen at the beginning of your recovery.
  • Take your time and build up as you feel you can and aim to do a little more each day.
  • Choose a good time of day (when you are not too tired) to go for a walk.
  • You might want to think about times when routes are a little quieter (early morning or evenings).
  • Wait an hour after eating a meal before you exercise and take a drink with you.
  • Walk with someone until you feel confident to be out on your own.
  • If you live alone, you might want to walk with a friend but you must maintain distance between both of you.
  • Start with just walking for five minutes without stopping (or less if you feel breathless and tired).
  • Gradually build this up, by one or two minutes.
  • Once you can do 10 minutes without stopping aim to do two 10 minute walks a day.
  • Once you can achieve three 10 minute walks aim for two 15 minute walks.
  • Gradually progress to a 30 minute walk.
  • Once you can walk for 30 minutes without stopping, you can begin to build up your speed.

How do I know if I am working at the right level?

  • You should be able speak a sentence when you are exercising.
  • If you feel uncomfortable at any point, stop and rest for as long as you need.
  • It is normal to feel a little breathless, warm and sweaty during exercise.
  • Your muscles may ache afterwards, but this should not last for more than a couple of days.
  • You may feel more tired afterwards, but it’s important to keep walking to build up your fitness and eventually feel less tired.
  • It may help to record the times that you walked so you can see your progress. You may not feel as strong on some days than others and walk quite as far, but do not get disheartened, look at your progress week- on- week. We all have good days and bad days.

What if I have a bad day?

  • It is normal to have setbacks so do not give up. There is no reason to feel that you have failed.
  • Learning from your experiences helps you to set goals that are more realistic and more likely to last. This will help you to set activity goals that become part of your daily routines.
  • Remember the less you do, the less you will want to do and the less you will be able to do.

Before starting, please read this:

  • Any exercise could lead to risk of physical injury.
  • You should feel good when participating in activity or exercise.
  • If you experience any extreme pain, shortness of breath or dizziness, stop and seek advice.
  • Following this, activity and exercise advice, is at your own risk. You are agreeing to undertake these activities voluntarily and as such assume all risk of injury to yourself.
  • If you feel unwell before, during or after, stop immediately and seek advice.

Grief and Bereavement

  • The COVID pandemic has seen people we know experience first-hand the viral infection and its far-reaching impact. These people may be family members, close friends, or a person you were in hospital with, and in some cases, this may have sadly resulted in them having lost their lives.
  • It can be incredibly challenging to cope with the grief and the bereavement of a loved one, a friend or someone you knew.
  • Suffering a loss during shielding or lockdown restrictions may have prevented you from being able to spend final precious moments with them before they passed away or being able to say goodbye in person, perform religious ceremonies or attend a funeral.
  • There is no easy way to manage grief, and there is no one “right” way but you can do things to avoid making your suffering worse.
  • Recognise that if you are recovering from COVID and dealing with bereavement, it is a lot for anyone to cope with. Surviving COVID does not
  • make you immune from the grief of losing someone close to you; indeed, it can lead people to irrational feelings of guilt about surviving.
  • Recognise that losing someone to whom you were close to is a huge loss, even more so if you were physically apart because of hospitalisation, shielding and social isolation.
  • Guilt can be an irrational feeling, you may find yourself thinking, what if…, if only…, I should have….
  • Grief can be prolonged by not expressing how you are feeling and keeping thoughts to yourself.
  • Health professionals often think about the patient and their symptoms, therefore may not routinely ask about death of family, friends, or someone you knew. But it is an important part of your recovery to feel that you can talk to someone, be reassured that they will always take time to listen.
  • If you have experienced loss, please do tell a health professional; this will enable them to be sensitive to your loss in their interactions with you and to direct you to local sources of support.
  • Telling a health professional does not mean that you will have to talk about your loss in detail if you do not wish to, you can tell them if you would rather not talk about it any further.
  • Allow yourself the space to grieve your loss.
  • Finally, we strongly recommend that you read the guidance prepared by the British Psychological Society on coping with loss during the COVID crisis which can be accessed here.

The Road to Recovery

What happens when I am ready to go home from hospital?

The team caring for you in hospital will work with you to make a discharge plan. They will identify if you need any medicine, equipment or assistance to help you manage when you return home and will arrange for this to be provided to you. You might also be contacted by a health professional or social worker once you have returned home, if you need extra advice or support to recover from your illness, or to manage your daily activities.

How can I prepare for going home?

You may be given exercises and advice to help you recover at home. You might also be provided with equipment to help with things like breathing, moving around and completing day to day tasks. Make sure that you understand any advice you have been given and how to use any equipment and know who to contact if you are having difficulties with it. If you are struggling to use your equipment, do not be afraid to ask for help.

If you live with other people, or rely on other people for support, make sure that you understand any current advice about social distancing and have planned to manage this when you go home.

Will I be able to go straight back to my normal activities, and back to work?

You might continue to experience some post-viral symptoms like fatigue and breathlessness or changes in your mood and thinking after you leave hospital. This is common in people who have had a serious illness that has required hospital treatment. These symptoms might make your normal activities feel difficult and tiring to do. It is important to be patient with yourself; take things slowly and gradually build up your daily and weekly routine.

You can find more advice on the daily activities and return to work sections of this website. Seek advice from your GP or another health professional if your symptoms change or do not improve. See the when do I need to seek help section of this website for more information.

These changes should get better over time, some may take longer than others, but there are things you can do to help.

Managing Daily Activities

Why are we talking about daily activities?

As you recover from COVID you might be experiencing symptoms such as fatigue and breathlessness or changes in your mood and thinking. These symptoms are common after a serious illness, especially if you have received hospital treatment. You might find that these symptoms affect your ability to complete everyday activities, such as getting washed and dressed, and doing tasks around the home. Activities that are usually simple might seem like hard work, and you may feel that you have less energy than usual.

I’m finding my normal activities more difficult than usual. What can I do?

There are lots of simple things you can do to help yourself. Getting enough sleep and making sure you eat well will both help. It is important to conserve your energy when you are completing your everyday tasks to help make sure that you have enough energy throughout the day. Try following the 3 P’s Principle – Pace, Plan and Prioritise

– to conserve your energy when going about your daily activities.

What is the 3 P’s Principle (Pace, Plan and Prioritise), and how will it help?


  • Give yourself permission to slow down. Don’t expect to be able to do everything at once, or at the pace you used to do. Do less than you think you can.
  • Break activities into smaller tasks and spread them throughout the day. You’ll recover faster if you work on a task until you are tired, rather than completely exhausted.
  • Build rests into your tasks and plan 30-40 minutes of rest breaks between activities. Resting is key to recharging your energy.


  • Look at the activities you normally do on a daily and weekly basis; develop a plan to spread these evenly across the week.
  • Think about which activities you find most tiring and make sure you spread these out, with plenty of time to rest in between.
  • Do not try to complete several activities all in one go. This will drain your energy, and you will need more time to recover afterwards.
  • If you find that your energy is lower or concentrating is harder at certain times of day, plan to avoid tiring activities at these times.
  • Think about ways you can do activities differently to make it easier and less tiring. For example, you could sit down during tasks like washing and getting dressed. Rather than lifting and carrying items when cooking, try pushing and sliding them across the work surface instead.
  • Rearrange rooms like the kitchen so the items you use most are easy to reach.
  • Simple pieces of equipment can make lots of daily tasks easier to manage. Websites such as will help you to find equipment that might be useful to you.


  • Some daily activities are necessary, but others aren’t. There might be some tasks that you usually do that you can stop altogether, do less often or ask someone else to do for you.
  • When prioritising activities make sure you have a balance of things you need to do, like washing and dressing and things you want to do for fun and enjoyment.
  • Start the day by asking:
  1. What do I need to do; what do I want to do today?
  2. What can I put off until another day?
  3. What can I ask someone else to do for me?

When will I get back to normal?

COVID is a new illness and we are still learning about how people recover from it. Your recovery will depend on things like how ill you were with the virus, whether you have other health issues, whether you went into hospital and whether you were in intensive care.

Some of your symptoms might go away quite quickly, whilst others may take much longer to improve. Be patient with yourself, think about moving forwards gradually and steadily, and ask for support if you need it.

If you are struggling to complete essential daily activities and are unable to ask for help from family or friends, take a look at the when to seek help section of this website for more advice and information.

“Small steps and little achievements each day helped me to progress. Plan and set yourself little targets each day, then reflect on how well you have done over say a week. Talk to those around you about how you are progressing. People near to you

will often notice the difference more than you. Positive feedback does wonders for boosting your mood.”

You will find advice for employees and employers in the return to work section of this website.

Returning to Work

Going back to work (voluntary or paid) after illness can be challenging. Persisting symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, poor concentration, and anxiety can all make return to work more difficult. The longer you are off sick, the harder it can be to go back to work.

Doing the right kind of work is good for your mental and physical health, even if you have a health condition.

I am confident about going back to work – what should I do?

If you have been off sick for seven days or less, then you can self-certify your leave for this time. If you have been off work for more than seven days and feel fit enough to work, then you need to obtain a fit note. If your employer agrees, a similar document can be provided by a physiotherapist, podiatrist, or occupational therapist instead. This is called an Allied Health Professional (AHP) Health and Work Report.

What if I am not sure about going back to work?

If you do not feel fit enough to return to work the following steps may make a return to work feel more manageable.

1 Talk to your GP or another health care professional, such as an occupational therapist.

Your health care professional will discuss with you how your symptoms impact on your work, and how your work affects your symptoms. They may suggest that you can do parts of your job or return part time.

2. Obtain a fit note or alternative evidence.

Your doctor or other health care professional will give you a fit note if your health affects your fitness to work. The fit note is your property and you should keep it. If your employer wants one for their records they can take a copy. The fit note provides advice from your health care professional to your employer. Your employer can decide whether or not to accept it.

3. Understand ‘reasonable adjustments’.

The fit note may make suggestions about a graded return to work or workplace modifications (often known as ‘reasonable adjustments’). These are changes to the work environment that allow people to work safely and productively. You are classified as disabled under the Equality Act 2010 if you have a physical or mental impairment

that has a ‘substantial’ and ‘long term’ negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities. Substantial means that everyday tasks take much longer than usual. Long term means 12 months or more, for example shortness of breath that develops following pneumonia.

Reasonable adjustments include allowing employees who meet the definition and criteria outlined above regarding long term mental and/or physical impairment to make a phased return to work, including flexible hours or part-time working. Other examples of reasonable adjustments can range from making physical changes to the workplace like installing a ramp for a wheelchair user to smaller adjustments such as allowing someone with fatigue to have a longer rest at lunch time, shorter, more frequent breaks or start and finish work later so travel is easier.

Graded returns to work should consider both the hours of work and the complexity of the work. Typically, a graded return to work takes place over six weeks. For example, attending work two days a week for the first week, three days a week on the second and third week, four days a week on the fourth and fifth weeks and full time in week six. If you have had a serious illness and have persistent fatigue, then this may be too fast.

4. Identify any support that would be helpful at work to you

You will know your capabilities and workplace better than anyone. Having thought about the work adjustments detailed above, it is a good idea for you to write down your suggestions so that you have a clear proposal to discuss with your boss; a return to work plan.

5. Contact Occupational Health

If your workplace has an occupational health department then you may be asked to see an occupational health advisor or another member of the occupational health team such as an occupational therapist before you return. Their aim is to keep you healthy and safe while in work and manage any risks to your health in the workplace. You can then discuss your proposed return to work plan with occupational health and they can liaise with your manager.

6. Talk to your line Manager

Before you go back to work it is helpful to meet with your line manager. You can discuss your proposed return to work plan (step 5) with your line manager. In this meeting it is helpful to focus on how any difficulties you have can be managed by both you and your employer.

For example, you can explain the nature of fatigue and say it would be very helpful if you do not need to go to lunchtime meetings but have half an hour away from your desk to rest.

We recommend that you take your written proposal in with you, so that you do not forget or miss anything. At the end of the meeting, it can be helpful to summarise the agreed plan and write it down either you or your manager can do this. This helps everyone remember what was agreed.

There is no obligation to discuss your symptoms in detail with your line manager, but you may want to consider taking in some information on symptoms experienced by people who are recovering from either COVID or a hospital stay. The purpose of this is simply to increase understanding of the conditions you and anyone like you experience. You could email this in advance of any meeting, if you felt this was appropriate for you.

When Do I Need to Seek Help?

Some symptoms and problems are like many other infections we have known about for many years (for example influenza and pneumonia), others from COVID infections, where there has been a more localised spread in the past.

We commonly see that some people have problems from the infection that prolong their recovery. For example, clots on the lung or heart attacks. Those that were most unwell and required machines to support their breathing often make their recovery even slower.

Many people worry about calling the specialist teams or their general practice, thinking that there is too much work and pressure on services. In the NHS we are busy, but we would prefer you to contact us as we are here to support your recovery and will be doing our best to support you.

Are we all affected the same way?

Some people who have been infected by COVID have no or minimal symptoms. Many will have short lasting symptoms (often fever, cough, and change in smell amongst others) from which they recover after a few days or up to two weeks.

There are lots of people with a more severe infection who may need help in hospital and sometimes even intensive care support. Quite a few people will have a severe infection, but not stay in hospital. Some will have an infection which is made worse by health problems they were aware of already or occurred when recovering from the infection. Everybody will get better at different rates.

What is the normal recovery pattern?

For most people who have had the COVID infection and are severe enough to need hospital care, we would expect from experience with other similar bacterial and viral infections that in around:

  • 4 weeks most of the chest pains, and phlegm (sputum) should have reduced.
  • 6 weeks cough and feeling breathless should have greatly reduced.
  • 3 months most symptoms should have settled but tiredness may still be present.
  • 6 months symptoms should have all settled.

Those of you who were admitted into intensive care will often find that recovery takes longer than this, possibly up to a year.

Should I speak to my doctor / nurse or another health care professional?

These symptoms are common and usually get better over time:

  • Muscle aches.
  • Tiredness.
  • Cough.
  • Chest pains.
  • Feeling anxious, tense or tearful.
  • Flashbacks to frightening experiences you had.
  • Poor sleep.
  • Poor concentration. For example, you can’t do sums that they used to do easily before the infection.

However, if you are worried that you are not getting better as quickly as you would expect (you will find some information in this website) it is worth discussing with a health care professional (contact the hospital team if they have provided you with a number, or your family GP practice for further advice). You may require examination or further tests for your ongoing symptoms.

Some of the medicines used to treat COVID can cause symptoms (such as muscle aches, tiredness, feeling anxious or cough).

Please do not feel that you are wasting NHS time, we want to help you to get better as quickly as possible especially if you develop new or worsening symptoms.

New Symptoms such as:

  • Swelling of a leg or arm.
  • Chest pain.
  • Coughing up blood.
  • Losing more weight /not wanting to eat anything.
  • A racing heart.
  • Muscle aches.

Call 999 or 111 for further advice if:

  • You are coughing up blood.
  • Severe chest pain.
  • Getting more breathless.

For the remaining new symptoms contact your primary care team.

Worsening symptoms

For example:

  • Being able to walk less distance before stopping because you are short of breath.
  • Getting dressed more slowly in the morning.

These are things that we would want to know about and quite often want to assess and ensure that this is just a normal part of recovery.

It is worth remembering that not all the problems you will get afterwards will be caused by COVID.

Symptoms that are steady, not particularly worsening and are ongoing, are often best discussed with the clinician who knows you and your medical history and situation best. They will be in a more informed situation to steer you on the right path to recovery.

I had specific problems when I was in hospital, what happens now?

There are a quite a few problems linked to severe infection and needing to stay in an intensive care unit which are seen in people with COVID. These people will often need care in their own right. Quite a few people will have suffered from one and sometimes more than one problem, during their infection such as:

  • Heart attack (myocardial infarction).
  • Heart failure.
  • Developing an irregular heart rate.
  • Clot on the lung or leg.
  • Kidney problems.
  • Swallowing difficulties.
  • Continued need for oxygen to feel well.
  • Local weakness in an arm or leg.
  • Anxiety, tension or “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

These may well require separate care in addition to your COVID treatment.


How quickly somebody recovers from COVID is likely to be very variable, and the problems that somebody can have vary too. Sometimes the medicines used can have side effects.

The NHS is here to help you. If you want more help or are uncertain, rather than leave things please contact the hospital team or your local GP surgery to discuss your situation.

What happens next?

Some people will need further medical follow-up after COVID. We have some national guidance to direct your follow up care. People who have been in hospital with COVID will most likely be followed up by the hospital. This may be over the phone or you might be invited back into hospital for review. This may include a chest x-ray or follow up any specific problems you might have had.

Follow up arrangements should be clear on the summary letter that is given to you or sent to your GP when you are sent home from hospital.

If you had a stay on the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) you may be followed up by the ICU team. This follow up may be delivered alongside other teams.

Will I be offered any further support to help my recovery?

We hope that the information on this site will support your recovery.

If you have persistent problems because of COVID you may be offered a programme of recovery and be referred to a particular specialist team for a problem that has arisen since developing COVID.

All Wales Information

Many of the Local Health Boards in Wales have designated webpages to assist people with their Covid-19 recovery. There are also National services that will provide support.

Tip: to find the Covid-19 Recovery information for your Local Health Board, try searching with your Local Authority, e.g., Swansea, Cardiff, Bangor, etc. All Wales services will be available too NHS 111 Wales - Local Services Search

More information

More information

Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust

The Welsh Ambulance Service is working hard to keep its staff safe and to protect the people of Wales during the coronavirus pandemic. As we continue to follow UK Government guidance, you might see our crews wearing protective clothing and equipment that looks different from our usual green uniform. If you see some of us wearing aprons, masks or white suits, please don’t worry. This is called Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and is used to keep our staff and our patients safe.

What is PPE?
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is special clothing and equipment worn by our crews to reduce and prevent the risk of transmitting contamination to our staff, patients and surrounding equipment.

Are there different types of PPE?
There are different levels of PPE used depending on how great the potential risk of infection and contamination is.

Disposable gloves, aprons and facemasks are the most common types of PPE you are likely to see our crews wearing. Under certain conditions they might also wear some sort of eye-protection and a white, hooded one-piece suit.

When will your crews wear PPE?
Our crews will need to minimise risk of transmission by wearing the appropriate PPE. Please be assured, if you see ambulance staff wearing PPE it will not necessarily mean the patient has Covid-19.

What if they arrive and aren’t wearing PPE?
Unless we have been notified or suspect that a patient might have coronavirus symptoms, then our responding crew may not be wearing PPE when they arrive.  Our staff will always carry out normal good hygiene practice whether PPE is appropriate or not.

Should I call 999 if I have coronavirus symptoms?
If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), use the coronavirus symptom checker.

Call 999 only if you have a life-threatening emergency – make sure you tell the call-taker if you think you have coronavirus symptoms.

Information in BSL

The following videos provide information about coronavirus (COVID19) in British Sign Language (BSL).

The information on this page has been adapted by NHS Wales from original content supplied by NHS UK NHS website
Last Updated: 21/06/2023 09:29:42