What to do if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms


What are the symptoms?

  • New and continuous cough - coughing for more than an hour, or having three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • High temperature - this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • Change in smell or taste - either losing your sense of taste or smell, or these senses being different to normal
  • Experiencing different symptoms? There are other other possible symptoms of COVID-19 detailed on the BBC website

What to do if you have any of these symptoms

If you, or anyone you live with has ANY symptoms – even just one of the above:

If you develop any symptoms while you are on campus, please put your face covering on and head off campus or back to your accommodation immediately, before following these steps:

1) Get tested

Contact the NHS or phone 119 to book a PCR test.

Do not attend the on-campus antigen testing centre as this is strictly for those without symptoms.

2) Tell us

Notify us at covid19@essex.ac.uk that you have any symptoms at all, even mild ones. Please provide your name and contact number.

Early reporting of COVID-19 symptoms helps isolate cases and protects all of our community – and we need you to play your part. You need to email us immediately so we can support you with advice and guidance.

3) Self-isolate

Self-isolate while you wait for results. Results should be given within 12-48 hours. The Student Isolation Support (SIS) team is here to support your wellbeing and answer any queries or concerns you may have during your isolation. They will contact you via your university email address or registered telephone number following notification of your isolation. You can also email them directly at isupport@essex.ac.uk

4) A negative test result

If you have a negative test result, contact Occupational Health before returning to your studies.

5) A positive test result

If you have a positive test result:

  1. Self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of your symptoms. After the required ten-day isolation period, if you do not have a temperature, you can come out of self-isolation. 
  2. You may be able to end your self-isolation period before the end of the 10 full days. You can take an LFD test from 6 days after the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you did not have symptoms), and another LFD test on the following day. The second LFD test should be taken at least 24 hours later. If both these test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative test result.
  3. NHS Test and Trace service will contact you.
  4. Email Occupational Health at covid19@essex.ac.uk so we can support you and identify any close contacts.
  5. You do not need to have further PCR tests for 90 days after your positive test, unless you have new symptoms or a positive LFT as they are likely to be positive.
  6. From the 11th January 2022, if you are not having symptoms but test positive with a lateral flow test, you will not be required to get a confirmatory PCR test.   You should still isolate for the required period as in point 2 above. If you are having symptoms please access a PCR test.
  7. You need to be mindful that although a person who has had COVID-19 is unlikely to catch it again, it is believed that they can still transmit the virus to those that have not had it.

This means that in order to reduce transmission on our campuses and in our communities everyone who has or has not had COVID will need to continue to adhere to all the safety measures advised by the Government. Please see the Lockdown rules and information about Hands, Face, Space.

If you are attending campus or health care placements you may be asked by your lecturers, placement mentors or line managers whether you have had your LFT test. You should then explain that you have not had a test due to recently having COVID and you are following the advice not to retest for a 90-day period. They may wish to see evidence of your COVID-19 Positive result date; we suggest you keep evidence of this date and your isolation period available on your phone or printed.

7. Start re-testing 90 days after your positive test.

If you need urgent medical advice

If you are feeling unwell and you need urgent medical advice, you can also contact NHS 111 either online or by phone. NHS 111 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Further guidance

If you think you've just got a cold

For many people, especially normally healthy young people, COVID-19 can be a mild illness. Even if your symptoms are mild, you will be contagious. Report any symptoms, however mild. You need to report straight away so that others in your accommodation or your household can be protected.


We understand that you might feel worried about other people knowing you are unwell – but there is nothing to feel ashamed about if you do contract COVID-19. The virus is indiscriminate and can infect anyone at any time. We will do what we can to keep your details confidential, but it is important that anyone that shares your space is informed so they can isolate too. It is very important that others are informed if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

We all have a responsibility to make sure we do not pass an infection on to anyone else. By reporting, you will be given all the support you need to isolate and get well safely.

Informing your flatmates, yourself is the quickest way to make sure they know the situation and can isolate immediately. However, if you do not feel comfortable doing this, please let us know and we will contact everyone with clear instructions as soon as possible.

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