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Frequently asked questions: Coronavirus

We understand that it is a difficult time for all. We appreciate your continued support and understanding during this challenging time.  We would ask that you only contact the surgery if absolutely necessary as the service is under extreme pressure.

Below are some frequently asked questions:

What are the symptoms of COVID 19?

  • A new continuous cough and/or

  • A  high temperature

  • Loss or change in your normal sense of smell

How long to stay at home:

  • if you have symptoms, stay at home for 7 days

  • if you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms (new advice as of 16 March)

  • If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.

  • If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

If you have mild symptoms you do not need to be tested.  You should not contact or come to the surgery or go to the hospital or pharmacy.

For general advice on coronavirus symptoms or if you need a coronavirus sick line or  if you have mild symptoms use NHS 111 online

Coronavirus - Self Isolation - By law, medical evidence is not required for the first 7 days of sickness (that is, employees can self-certify).  After 7 days, it is for the employer to determine what evidence they require if any, from the employee,  If evidence is required to cover beyond the first 7 days of absence then employees can get an isolation note from NHS 111 isolation note

For medical advice for coronavirus symptoms phone NHS 111.

Contact the surgery by phone if:

  • Your symptoms do not improve after 7 days
  • Your symptoms worsen whilst you are self isolating
  • You have an underlying medical condition and develop symptoms

Phone 999 if it is an emergency 


Can I get tested for Covid 19?

Everyone over five years of age in Northern Ireland with symptoms of coronavirus is now eligible for testing.

You can now get tested if you have:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature); OR

  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual); OR

  • a loss of or change in sense of smell or taste.

When to get tested

You should get tested in the first 3 days of coronavirus symptoms appearing, although testing is considered effective up until day 5.

No testing should be undertaken after day 5, unless it’s for a specific reason which will be agreed on a case by case basis by local microbiologists.

For further information on testing please click the link below:


How can I get an appointment with the doctor?

We have suspended our online booking service and are not offering routine booked appointments until further notice.  If you feel you need to see or speak to a doctor please phone the surgery on the usual number (contact details).  A member of our experienced reception staff will take your contact details and will ask some questions regarding why you want to speak to the doctor.  This information helps us prioritise patients who need urgent medical attention.  A member of our practice team will then phone you back.  You will be offered an appointment with a doctor if required.

How do I order and collect my repeat prescriptions?

Please use the dedicated phone line (contact details) to order your repeat prescriptions or the online service.  Due to high demand this line can be very busy.  Thank you in advance for your patience with this.  When you phone the repeat line you will be asked to nominate a preferred pharmacy, if using online services please use the comment box to indicate your preference.  You can then collect your prescription there 72 hours later.  We are asking that you allow extra time before collecting your prescriptions due to the extra pressures on all services. 

What is social distancing and who are the high risk groups of people?

Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.

Social distancing will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus by reducing the social interaction between people.

You should:

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus - these symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough;
  • avoid non-essential use of public transport, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour, when possible
  • work from home, where possible - your employer should support you to do this.
  • avoid large gatherings, and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as pubs, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, bars, clubs
  • avoid gatherings with friends and family – keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  • use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

Everyone should be trying to follow these measures as much as possible.

We strongly advise you to follow the above measures and to significantly limit your face-to-face interaction with friends and family if possible, particularly if you:

  • are over 70;
  • have an underlying health condition;
  • are pregnant.

This advice is likely to be in place for some weeks.

The link below gives further guidance on social distancing and a list of conditions deemed to be at higher risk who should be particularly stringent in following social distancing.

Guidance on social distancing for everyone and protecting older people and vulnerable adults

Should I continue to take my immunosuppressant/biological therapy?

Please see the below links for further guidance on this:

For patients with rheumatological conditions taking immunosuppressant/biological therapy- British Society of Rheumatology Coronavirus Advice and Rheumatology Coronavirus Risk stratification table

For patients with dermatological conditions taking immunosuppressants/biological therapy-British Association of Dematologists Coronavirus advice and Dermatology Coronavirus Risk Stratification table

For Patients with Inflammatory bowel disease taking immunosuppressant/biological therapy IBD UK Coronavirus Advice and IBD Coronavirus decision tree

What is 'shielding' and am I in this group of people?

The government has set out a list of patients who they feel should follow this shielding advice Coronavirus Shielding Guidance.

If you are taking immunosuppressant medication please see the rheumatology and dermatology stratification tables and IBD decision tree above.

Those in this shielding group will now have been sent letters.  If you have not received a letter and feel you should be in this group(please check the guidance first) please contact the surgery.

There may be others with mild asthma and diabetes who do not fit into this shielding group, but need to be stringent with social distancing.

What are COVID 19 Centres?

As from Tuesday 31st March COVID 19 centres will be set up all over Northern Ireland.  The Belfast COVID 19 centre will be in Beech hall in West Belfast.  The purpose of the centre is to clinically assess patients with COVID 19 symptoms in order to decide if they are well enough to stay at home, need hospital admission, or may have another cause for their symptoms.  At present patients will not be tested for Coronavirus.  You can only be referred to the centre by your GP, who will only refer you if felt necessary.  Most patients with Coronavirus will have very mild symptoms and can be managed safely at home.  If you have Coronavirus symptoms which are mild access NHS 111 online, if you have symptoms which are concerning you please phone NHS 111.  Please only contact the surgery directly if you have an underlying significant medical condition, your symptoms are worsening or you are feeling very unwell.  If it is an emergency please phone 999.

I am feeling very anxious, is this normal?

Feeling anxious is a normal feeling given the current situation.  There are many ways to help with this this Mental Health and Wellbeing and Coronavirus guidance has some very useful tips to help.

What can I do if I have lost a loved one? Is there any support I can get?

Follow the link, there is plenty of support out there. The leaflet will explain all.

How can I help my kids during the pandemic? Is there anything that can help with their mental health?

Follow this link to our mental health page, there are resources on how to keep your child occupied and help them if they suffer from autism, hearing difficulties or learning disabilities. There is also a section on how to help them with their mental health.

Should I use Ibuprofen?

There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus worse.  Until more information is available the advice is to use paracetamol to treat symptoms of coronavirus (unless you have an allergy to paracetamol or told you should not take it) in preference to ibuprofen.  If you are taking NSAIDs(ibuprofen and Naproxen) for other reasons and can continue to take it as long as you do not have coronavirus symptoms.

Should I continue to take my ACE inhibitor(ramipril, perindopril) or ARB (candesartan, irbesartan)?

The current advice is that you should continue with these drugs.  There is no evidence that these drugs increase the risks of infection from coronavirus or its severity.

Should I have a 'rescue pack' of antibiotics and steroids at home if I have asthma or COPD?

rescue pack

We do not recommend having rescue medication at home.  If you have a flare of symptoms or are unwell you should contact the surgery to speak to a doctor.

Please see HSCB website for further information 

For further advice on coronavirus and asthma please see Asthma UK coronavirus Guidance

For further advice on coronavirus and COPD please see British Lung Foundation Chronic Lung Disease and Coronavirus guidance

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