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Last Updated: Monday, September 6, 2021

Health and Covid-19

About COVID-19

COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.  WHO first learned of this new virus on 31 December 2019, following a report of a cluster of cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China.

It is possible to catch COVID-19 from someone who has just a mild cough and does not feel ill. People with no symptoms can spread COVID-19. The time between exposure to COVID-19 and the moment when symptoms start is commonly around five to six days but can range from 1 – 14 days.  

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How to stay safe and help prevent the spread

  • Get vaccinated
  • Meet outside, or open windows and doors for indoor visitors
  • If you think you have symptoms stay at home and take a PCR test
  • Wear face coverings in crowded places and on public transport
  • Check in to venues when you go out
  • Wash your hands with soap regularly, and for at least 20 seconds

Click here for guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

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Did you know that when calling NHS 111 for #COVID19 advice, you can get an interpreter in your language by repeatedly answering YES to all questions?

As restrictions have been eased following the move to Step 4 of the roadmap, the UK Government is advising clinically extremely vulnerable people, as a minimum, to  follow the same guidance as everyone else





The coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are safe and effective. They give you the best protection against COVID-19. 

Access to the Vaccine 

 The COVID-19 vaccines currently available are given in 2 doses. You usually have the 2nd dose 8 to 12 weeks after the 1st dose.

If you're aged 18 or over (or will turn 18 within 3 months) you can:

  • book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments online for an appointment at a vaccination centre or pharmacy
  • find a walk-in COVID-19 vaccination site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment
  • wait to be contacted by your GP surgery and book your appointments with them. If you cannot book appointments online, you can call 119 free of charge. You can speak to a translator if you need to.

You can register with a GP if you do not have one. Anyone who is refused GP registration can contact Doctors of the World who can advise and support with GP registration. 

Doctors of the World UK (DOTW) has launched a Covid-19 vaccine advocacy project to ensure that everyone in the UK has access to the vaccine, regardless of immigration status. As well as producing translated Covid-19 information resources. Click here to find translated information in your language and here for videos on How to register with a GP in your language. 




How to get a COVID Test in the UK



More information on COVID Tests in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.



NHS entitlements for migrants in the UK

  • No charges for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, treatment and vaccination

Overseas visitors to England, including anyone living in the UK without permission, will not be charged for:

  • testing for COVID-19 (even if the test shows they do not have COVID-19)
  • treatment for COVID-19, including for a related problem called multisystem inflammatory syndrome that affects some children
  • vaccination against COVID-19
  • No immigration checks are needed for overseas visitors if they are only tested, treated or vaccinated for COVID-19.

Information from the government on migrant entitlements related to Covid-19 and health can also be found here.

Are there any risks for people with an irregular immigration status accessing healthcare?

Sometimes the NHS shares the name, address and date of birth of a patient with the Home Office (the department of government that is responsible for immigration control). This can happen if the hospital is trying to determine a person’s eligibility for care, or if a person has a debt to the NHS.

If you are feeling unwell, showing symptoms and are worried about your immigration status, please have a look at the guidance from Doctors of the World UK (available in 60 languages)  here.

Doctors of the World also run a clinic advice line for all migrants with healthcare concerns. The clinic advice line: 0808 1647 686 (freephone) is open from 10am to 12 midday, Monday to Friday. Or email