It’s totally understandable that you might be worried about coronavirus (Covid-19). You might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by what you’re hearing in the news, especially if you don’t have family around to talk to. Being worried about the virus is completely normal. But you may be hearing lots of different things that make it all feel confusing.

It is important to get your information from the correct place.

The NHS posts guidelines about what we need to do and when. This advice might change, so you need to keep up to date. It is important that we all follow this advice.

The current guidance is:

To stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), you should try to avoid close contact with anyone you do not live with.

This is called social distancing.

You should try to stay at home apart from for the following reasons:

  • going to shops to get things like food and medicine, or to collect things you’ve ordered
  • to exercise or spend time outdoors
  • for any medical reason, to donate blood, avoid injury or illness, escape risk of harm, provide care or help a vulnerable person
  • for work, if you cannot work from home

On Friday 20th March, schools closed for some children and young people. If you have a social worker, you are likely to be allowed to stay in school. Your individual school / social worker / virtual school should have let you know.

But when you are not in school, or if you don’t go to school, you will need to avoid social contact in accordance with the government guidelines.

This might feel quite a challenge. We have a separate article on how to look after yourself if you’re self-isolating. If you attend university and you don’t have anywhere to return to during term time, you may feel particularly isolated and lonely, so it is especially important you look after your mental health.

But for now, here are some general questions about coronavirus you might want answered.

What exactly is coronavirus?

Coronavirus is a new flu-like virus spreading around the world. The virus causes an illness called Covid-19. The World Health Organization – the part of the United Nations that looks after the health of people worldwide – has declared it a pandemic, which is a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

BBC Newsround has created this video, featuring twin brothers Dr Chris and Dr Zand from CBBC’s Operation Ouch, answering your frequently asked questions about the virus, including what the symptoms are like, how you can prevent catching the virus, and if wearing a mask will stop you from catching it (short answer: no!).

What are the symptoms, and what should I do if I think I have it?

The main symptoms of coronavirus are a high temperature and a new, continuous cough. Check out the NHS website for more information, and for advice on what to do if you think you’ve caught the virus.

If you think you have coronavirus you should tell whoever looks after you straight away. This might be your foster carer or a member of staff at your children’s home. If you are in semi-independent accommodation, tell your keyworker or personal advisor so they can support you.

How can I protect myself, and stop the spread of coronavirus?

Despite what some people think, wearing a mask is not a surefire way to protect yourself from coronavirus and, unless you have the virus or are caring for somebody with it, there is no need to wear one. Instead, washing your hands, and avoiding touching your face and mouth, is the best way to protect yourself and others from the virus. However, a quick rinse under the tap isn’t enough – check out this guide on how to wash your hands properly from BBC Newsround presenter De’Graft.

As stated earlier, everyone in the UK must now practice social distancing. This includes people of all ages – even if you do not have any symptoms or other health conditions.

How will it affect my care?

We don’t know how many people will get ill yet. But with the government encouraging everyone to stay home and avoid all social contact, the people who support you, like your social worker and personal advisor, probably won’t be around as much. Realistically, you should expect disruption, but people will be working hard to try and make things as smooth as possible.

This will also impact on the contact you have with your family. These meetings will have to happen over the phone or via video call. But this will be temporary.

Read our article on how to look after your wellbeing while self-isolating.