Advice for the general public and vulnerable people

Stay at home as much as possible to stop COVID-19 (coronavirus) spreading

In line with the latest guidance from the government, everyone should try to avoid close contact with anyone you do not live with to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It's very important to stay at home as much as possible but when outside of your home, it's important to try to stay 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with. For further information please visit:

Advice for vulnerable patients who are shielding

We know this will be a difficult time for our patients, and their families, friends and carers. We appreciate your understanding and support in helping us to protect our patients and staff. 

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and everybody else. Shielding will affect many Royal Free London patients and if you fall into this category, you will have received a letter and/or text from the NHS with details on how shielding will affect you and what you should do.

The government has published useful FAQs about shielding (1 April 2020) for people defined by the UK’s chief medical officer as being extremely clinically vulnerable to, or at highest clinical risk from COVID-19 (coronavirus). This guidance is also useful for family, friends and carers.

Please read the FAQs here.

In addition to this, please read our information leaflet 'Your wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic'. This leaflet is for vulnerable patients who are sheilding, but others may find the information helpful as well. It contains some top tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic and signposts to other available resources.

We also have a COVID-19 information page which provides the latest information about the trust and our services during the pandemic here.

Food supplies and support services for vulnerable people

A list of services that can offer help with food shopping and other practical support if you need to self-isolate or have been recently discharged from hospital during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is available here. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and services will vary by area. Please refer to the organisations directly for further advice.

Symptoms of COVID-19 and what to do

Do not leave your home if you have either:

  • a high temperature – this 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 three or more coughing episodes in a 24 hour period (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.

  1. For advice on the next steps please visit:
  2. If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home or your condition gets worse, please visit: If you cannot get help online, please call 111.

How to stop the infection spreading

The NHS has provided further information about how coronavirus is spread, and what you can do to avoid catching it. This includes the following advice:

  • wash you hands with soap and water often - do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get back home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

The Department of Health has produced a film with information about people can prevent the spread of infections: