What you need to do if you get COVID this summer

Close-up of mans hands preparing Covid-19 cassette rapid test
COVID-19 tests are still available but are no longer free for most people. (PA)

The number of coronavirus cases in England is on the rise amid warnings of a summer wave of infections.

According to the latest government figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the number of COVID cases rose by 33.5% in the week up to 19 June to 2,815.

Coronavirus testing has been vastly reduced since the height of the pandemic, so cases aren't reported in the way they used to be, but health experts say there are signs of an increase since the summer began.

There is also a new group of coronavirus variants, collectively and informally known as FLiRT, descended from the dominant JN.1 variant, itself a sub-variant of the omicron strain.

With cases on the rise, Yahoo News UK examines the latest coronavirus advice.

Young woman coughing under the mask
There are a number of symptoms of coronavirus, according to the NHS. (Getty Images)

Despite the emergence of new variants, there has been little to no change in the symptoms listed under official guidance.

According to the NHS, COVID-19 symptoms may include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills)

  • a new, continuous cough

  • 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

  • a loss of appetite

  • diarrhoea

  • feeling sick or being sick

The NHS said symptoms of COVID are very similar to those experienced through colds and flu and that most people will feel better within a few weeks, although others can take longer to recover, and for some it can be more serious and last even longer.

Vauxhall, London, UK. 10th August, 2023. A social distancing sign on a platform at Vaxuhall Railway Station in London. Covid-19 cases are continuing to rise and there are calls for people to start wearing face masks again. Credit: Maureen McLean/Alamy
A social distancing sign on a platform at Vauxhall station in London in August 2023. (Alamy)

There are no longer any COVID restrictions in the UK, but the government does advise that if you have coronavirus you should "try to stay at home".

The NHS says you should stay home and avoid contact with others if you do experience COVID symptoms and have either a high temperature or don't feel well enough to go to work or do normal activities.

It says if your child has mild COVID symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or mild cough but is feeling well enough, they can attend school or childcare.

The NHS says if you do experience a high temperature, a cough or breathlessness, you should do some of the following:

  • get lots of rest

  • drink plenty of water

  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable

  • take a teaspoon of honey if you have a cough, although do not give honey to babies under 12 months

  • sit upright in a chair to help with breathlessness

It said sufferers should avoid lying on their back if they have a cough and don't use a fan to cool your room as it may spread the virus.

There are no longer any travel restrictions when entering the UK, and people do not need to take a test or quarantine themselves when they arrive into the country.

The government says people travelling elsewhere should check the travel advice in that country before going there. One country with restrictions is Turkmenistan in Central Asia, whose regime reported zero coronavirus cases during the worldwide pandemic.

The UK's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office says many flights in and out of Turkmenistan have not resumed, and that any arrivals will be told to buy a COVID test on arrival, and if they test positive will have to quarantine for seven days in a hospital, for which they will be charged.

Mark Woolhouse, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, said on Monday that there is evidence of a rise in COVID infections in the past few weeks, and linked it to the Euro 2024 football tournament which has inspired large gatherings across the country, particularly to watch England's matches.

He said: "There is a widespread impression of a growing 2024 summer wave, much as we saw in 2021 when - coincidently perhaps - there was also a Euros football tournament, and evidence that this contributed significantly to the spread of infection.

“The waves continue to be driven by a combination of new variants and a partial waning immunity to infection."

He added: "To all intents and purposes COVID-19 will become just another common cold. We’re not there yet though."

London, UK, 22 January 2024: Drops of buffer solution being added to a lateral flow covid test casette for a coronavirus Flowflex test at home. Anna W
COVID tests are available to buy in shops and pharmacies. (PA)

Rapid lateral flow tests aren't free any more for most people, but you can still get one through the NHS if you have a health condition that puts you at risk of becoming seriously ill or if you work in healthcare or in a hospice. These groups may be able to pick up a free test from a pharmacy.

Anyone else who wants a test must pay for it themselves – tests are available in shops and pharmacies but the result is no longer reported to the NHS as in the pandemic.

A single test from Boots costs £1.75.

File photo dated 08/09/22 of a dose of the new Moderna spikevax autumn Covid booster vaccination. Care home residents will be the first to receive the spring Covid-19 booster jab from Monday. Around five million people in total are eligible for a booster up until the end of June, including those aged 75 and over and anyone aged five and over who is immunosuppressed. Issue date: Saturday April 1, 2023.
There will be another round of COVID booster vaccines available to eligible groups later this year. (PA)

The deadline for the spring booster programme passed on Sunday 30 June, but will be rolled out again later this year.

People who are eligible - those aged 75 and over, people with a weakened immune system and adults living in care homes - will be contacted by the NHS closer to the time.