Your coronavirus questions answered – how to get tested and when to wear face masks

A woman wearing a face mask in Regents Street in London

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After weeks of anticipation, Boris Johnson finally revealed that lockdown measures in England are being eased from July 4.

The changes include a reduction of the two-metre social distancing guidelines to one-metre where two metres is not possible, and the opportunity for pubs, cinemas and theatres to reopen.

But while restrictions are being lifted in England, many Brits still have questions about the pandemic.

From how to book a test to whether or not we can expect a second wave, you may have questions that you feel haven’t been properly answered yet.

To help, we’ve answered the top coronavirus questions being asked in the UK this week.

How to book a COVID-19 test and how long do the results take?

Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can ask for a free test to check if they have the virus. This is called an antigen test.

You can either ask for a test for yourself, if you have coronavirus symptoms now, or for someone you live with, if they have coronavirus symptoms.

Medical staff at an NHS drive through coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility in a car park

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You can apply for a Covid-19 test here.

The application will ask you how you want to get the test (at a drive-through or walk-through test site or by ordering a home test kit), and for details such as your name, mobile phone number and address.

If you have a test at a test site, it can take up to 48 hours to get your result. It may take up to 72 hours for a home test.

How effective are face masks and when should you wear one?

Coronavirus is spread via airborne droplets that are released into the air when infected people, talk, breathe, cough or sneeze.

Face masks can help to reduce the spread of the virus – especially from people who are contagious but have no symptoms.

The World Health Organisation said: “If you need to leave your house, wear a mask to avoid infecting others. Why? Avoiding contact with others will protect them from possible COVID-19 and other viruses.”

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The UK government advises that anyone travelling by bus, train, ferry or plane in England or Scotland should wear a face mask.

And while face masks currently aren’t compulsory in other situations, wearing a mask while you’re in a confined indoor area, such as a supermarket, can help to reduce your risk.

What happens to coronavirus patients in intensive care?

The intensive care unit is needed if someone is seriously ill and requires intensive treatment and close monitoring, or if they're having surgery and intensive care can help them recover.

While the most severe cases will require full ventilation support, other coronavirus patients, such as PM Boris Johnson, will receive oxygen from a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.

Professor Derek Hill, Professor of Medical Imaging at University College London, explained: “We understand the PM is on a type of breathing support called Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which is commonly used in treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

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“Experience in Italy and other European countries has shown that CPAP can be effective in COVID-19 patients, at least initially.”

Some coronavirus patients may leave ICU after a few days, while others will need to stay for weeks to ensure they’re well enough to cope on their own.

Will there be a second wave of coronavirus?

Boris Johnson's Government has been urged to prepare for a second wave of coronavirus after it was accused of missteps and not taking the initial outbreak seriously enough.

Britain's leading medical experts have written an open letter calling for an urgent review of whether the country is properly prepared for the "real risk" of another surge of Covid-19 cases.

Earlier modelling has suggested a new peak could hit after Christmas and kill as many as 60 people a day.

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The letter published in the British Medical Journal warns ministers that urgent action is needed to prevent further loss of life and to protect the economy amid growing fears of a renewed outbreak over the winter.

The appeal is backed by the presidents of the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons, GPs and Nursing – as well as the chairman of the British Medical Association.

Can you catch coronavirus from a swimming pool?

Chlorine is thought to kill Covid-19, which means the risk of catching coronavirus from a swimming pool is very low.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Richard Lamburn of Swim England said: “According to the World Health Organisation, a residual concentration of more than 0.5mg/l in the pool water for a minimum of 30 minutes of contact at a pH of less than 8.0 is sufficient to eliminate enveloped viruses like coronavirus.”

However, there’s still a risk that you could catch the virus in other areas, such as changing rooms.

Earlier this month, Swim England revealed its new ‘Returning to the Pool’ advice to ensure the safety of everyone visiting and working around swimming pools.

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Jane Nickerson, Swim England Chief Executive, said: “Our first priority remains the safety of everyone involved in our sports, be they participants, leisure centre staff, coaches or volunteers.

“When pools reopen, it will not be a case of ‘business as usual’ and we know that things will have to be different.

“However, if we are to play our part in protecting the NHS from another wave of Covid-19 admissions, it is important we follow the latest guidance and adjust to the new ‘normal’.”

The new rules include arriving in your swimwear, showering at home, and avoiding butterfly.

It remains unclear when swimming pools will reopen after the government declared that they will remain shut beyond July 4.

What is the science behind social distancing?

Social distancing measures in England have been cut to a "one metre plus" rule, which allows people closer together if they're taking protective measures such as wearing a mask.

But just how effective is social distancing of less than two metres actually in practice?

Today, Boris Johnson announced that England’s two-metre social distancing rules are to be reduced to one metre

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The simple answer is that the further you are from someone who is infected, the lower your risk of catching the virus.

However, advice around the world varies hugely, with the World Health Organisation simply recommending keeping a distance of one metre.

The WHO website advises: “Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others. Why? When someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person has the disease.”

Do you have any coronavirus questions that you'd like answered? Email [email protected]