About coronavirus COVID-19

COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a type of coronavirus.

What are the symptoms?

Common signs of COVID-19 are:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Most cases appear to be mild, with those who have been most affected already suffering from underlying health conditions that leave them more vulnerable to respiratory conditions.

You can find an overview of the symptoms and further information about the virus on the NHS website.

How is it spread?

The coronavirus is spread in the same way that viruses similar to it are spread:

  • Through small droplets released by coughs and sneezes
  • Through touching your mouth and eyes when the virus is on your hands (e.g. by touching contaminated surfaces).

Read more about how the coronavirus is spread on the NHS website.

What can I do to protect myself?


  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneezeput used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell


  • touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean

You can find out more from the NHS about the virus and how to protect yourself.

What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

If you think you have coronavirus, use the online NHS coronavirus service to get advice.

If you are a member of staff or a student, please visit the dedicated FAQs page which are regularly updated and reviewed to reflect the latest advice as the situation evolves.

Where can I find the latest research developments, news and comment from researchers at the University of Birmingham?

Researchers from the University of Birmingham are contributing to the global effort to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects.

Find out more