Two of Hertfordshire’s leading GP’s have teamed up to answer some of the most common questions being asked right now by residents on coronavirus.

On Monday, the Covid-19 alert level was raised to level four across the UK with Health Secretary Matt Hancock stating the change reflected a "significant shift" in the threat posed by the virus.

Locally, we have seen outbreaks in Hertsmere and St Albans, with cases increasing once again in Watford.

One of the biggest issues residents are facing right now in Hertfordshire is access to a test. Another dilemma is differentiating between Covid-19 and a cold.

As the UK tries to get a grip on a nationwide outbreak of cases, here are some of the public's most common Covid-19 questions answered by the lead GP for Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dr Nicholas Small, and Dr Prag Moodley, the lead GP for East and North Hertfordshire CCG.

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Dr Prag Moodley


Recently, the health secretary Matt Hancock pleaded with the public to only get a test if they had symptoms of Covid-19, after the Government struggled to get to grips with a soaring demand for tests.

People have been left unable to book a test on the government website.

Dr Small and Dr Moodley have answered these common FAQ’s on testing.

I think I need a coronavirus test. How can I get one?

If you have any of the coronavirus symptoms, try to arrange a test straight away. If you can access the internet, go to

Do not try to book a test if you haven’t got symptoms. Tests are only for those with symptoms and you would be making it harder for people with symptoms to get the test they need.

What if I can’t get online?

If you can’t get online, or have trouble using websites, you can try the telephone test booking number, which is 119.

However, the telephone service doesn’t have access to any more tests than the online booking system. If there are no appointments online, calling 119 will not help.

I have symptoms but I haven’t been able to get a test. What should I do?

We know that many people all over the country are having problems booking a test and we understand how frustrating this is. Do keep trying, as new testing slots are added regularly during the day.

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Can I get a test from my GP, hospital or by turning up to a test site and joining the queue?

No. The only way for members of the public to get a test anywhere is to use the booking service.

Your GP does not have any COVID tests and they cannot diagnose COVID-19 in an appointment.

Going to a GP practice with symptoms endangers others and could cause the practice to close.

Hospitals only have a very limited number of tests for patients about to have planned treatments, or waiting to be discharged from hospital – you can’t get a test in an A&E department.

If you turn up at a testing site without an appointment, staff cannot and will not test you.

I haven’t been able to get a Covid test, but I have symptoms. What should I do?

If you have COVID symptoms but haven’t been able to get a test within five days of your symptoms developing, you should act as if you have the virus and follow the self-isolation guidance.

You must not leave your home for 10 days and anyone in your household or support bubble who hasn’t got symptoms must stay at home too, for 14 days.

This is in case they go on to develop symptoms as well. If people in your household go on to develop symptoms, they should try to get a test too.

If you need to get food or other essential supplies during your isolation, please ask a friend or a family member who doesn’t live with you to get them for you.

How can I look after myself if I have COVID-19, or the symptoms of the virus?

There is currently no specific treatment for coronavirus, but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover, using the advice on the NHS website here 

If your symptoms get worse and you are worried, go to

If you don’t have access to the internet, you can ring NHS 111.

If you have a long-term health condition and you are worried about the impact of your coronavirus symptoms on your health, contact your GP surgery online or on the phone.

Watford Observer:

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Typical coronavirus symptoms are a high temperature; a new continuous cough; or a change to or loss of sense of taste of smell.

A high temperature or fever is usually considered to be a temperature of 38C or above.

If you don’t have a thermometer you can usually tell if someone has a high temperature if they feel hotter than usual to touch on their forehead, back or stomach, feel sweaty or clammy, or have flushed cheeks.

How can I tell the difference between Covid-19 and a cold?

If you are not sure whether you or your child’s symptoms suggest that they have coronavirus or an everyday cough or cold, you can consult this online NHS symptom checker

Children often pick up colds and bugs after returning to school, but a runny nose or sore throat are not associated with Covid-19.

Children and schools

My child doesn’t have symptoms but has been sent home from school because someone in their school ‘bubble’ has coronavirus. What should I do?

Schools, colleges and early years settings are working hard to try to ensure that pupils and staff are protected and to stop the virus spreading.

This means that children in the same group, class, or year as someone with a confirmed case of coronavirus are being asked to self-isolate, even if they don’t have symptoms.

Although this is tough on children and families, this should slow down the rate at which the virus is spreading in our area.

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Here’s what self-isolation means for a child or young person and their household members

• Self-isolation means they must not leave their home for 14 days because they might have been exposed to Covid-19. It can take 14 days for symptoms to develop

• Your child(ren) should not leave the house and cannot visit family, friends or attend any activities or parties, even if these are outdoors. They cannot go out to exercise, use public transport or taxis, even if they wear a mask.

• Being sent home does not mean that your child(ren) has coronavirus and you should not book a test for your child(ren), unless they develop symptoms

• Other members of your household will not be expected to self-isolate due to child(ren) being sent home in a school bubble unless the child develops symptoms, in which case the rules on testing and self-isolation apply above.

• If your child(ren) develops symptoms while self-isolating at home, your entire household must self-isolate immediately and you should try to book a test for those with symptoms. You should check the period of self-isolation which applies here.

Watford Observer:


My employer has asked me to get an isolation note. How can I get one?

If you have been asked to get an isolation note from your employer, go to There is no need to call your GP and you must not visit your GP practice.

My child has a runny nose. Do I need a doctor’s note to say they can attend school?

Children often have runny noses. You do not need a note from your doctor to send your child to school if they have a sniffle.

How will I manage if I have to isolate?

If you are worried about how you will manage with shopping, getting prescriptions or managing financially when you are isolating, click here.

What can I do to avoid catching Covid-19?

The best ways we know to protect ourselves are by; washing your hands regularly or using sanitiser if there’s no soap and water, keeping your distance from people whenever possible, wearing a face covering where required or advised, and being alert to potential coronavirus symptoms in ourselves and others.