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COVID-19 Guidance

This page contains useful information, advice, and news on the current coronavirus pandemic. It will be updated regularly with the latest medical and governmental advice as it happens.




What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a new and highly contagious disease. It is part of the coronavirus family of viruses. These usually cause diseases in animals, but seven viruses, including COVID-19, have changed and can now infect humans too.

Other coronaviruses include severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

COVID-19 is thought to have originated in an animal market in Wuhan, China. The virus mainly spreads through droplets of saliva or nasal mucus when someone sneezes or coughs.

When these droplets land on surfaces, they can be picked up and transferred to someone else when they touch their hands, nose, mouth or eyes.

Consequently, it’s important that people protect themselves by washing their hands regularly and frequently with soap and hot water, or with hand sanitiser.


COVID-19 symptoms 

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the flu. According to the NHS, common symptoms include:

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • High temperature
  • Continuous dry cough
  • Loss or change of smell or taste

Mild symptoms of coronavirus include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath

Rare symptoms of the virus include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea
  • Runny nose

If you or a loved one experiences a high temperature or a new, persistent cough, self-isolate immediately. Do not visit your GP, pharmacy, or hospital. Remain indoors and book a free test.


How long does it take for coronavirus symptoms to appear?

The period of time it takes for coronavirus symptoms to appear after actually contracting the virus is known as the “incubation period”. While it is not known for certain, most estimates range from 1-14 days for symptoms to appear. However, the most common cases feature an incubation period of around five days.

It should be noted that not everyone who contracts COVID-19 displays symptoms.


COVID-19 health tips and advice

Can I leave the house during the coronavirus lockdown?

Current governmental and medical advice on coronavirus prevention is that the general public should stay alert to control the virus. This means:

  • Staying home as much as possible.
  • Working from home where possible.
  • Limiting contact with other people.
  • Staying at least 2 metres apart from people not in your household. If this is not possible, apply the 1-metre-plus rule where appropriate.
  • Washing your hands regularly.
  • Wearing face coverings in indoor settings where social distancing might be difficult and where you might come into close contact with people outside of your usual social circle.
  • The Rule of Six: apart from some exemptions for work or education, any social gatherings of more than six people is against the law.
  • Support bubbles: if you live alone, are a single parent with dependent children, or live in a household with only one adult, you can form a ‘support bubble’ with another similar household. You can stay over each other’s houses and not follow social distancing rules. You may only have one support bubble per household.

However, there has been an increase in positive cases around the UK. As such, on the 9th September 2020, the government introduced new measures to help control the virus:

  • Socialise indoors and outdoors: with anyone from your support bubble, up to six people from multiple households, provided social distancing rules are observed.
  • NHS Test and Trace: certain businesses, including those in the hospitality industry, will be legally required to collect contact details of their customers and provide it to NHS Test and Trace.

On Thursday 5th November, England entered a national lockdown, which was lifted on Wednesday 2nd December, with each different area of England falling under one of the following tiers:

  • Tier 1 (medium): baseline restrictions apply to the whole country, including the rule of six (indoors and outdoors) and an 11pm curfew for hospitality venues.
  • Tier 2 (high): same restrictions as tier 1, plus restrictions on socialising with different households indoors, with the exception of support bubbles.
  • Tier 3 (very high): same restrictions as above, including the closure of bars and pubs (unless operating as a restaurant), plus a ban on meeting other households indoors or in most outdoor spaces, with the exception of support bubbles.

Each tier has different restrictions on what you can and can’t do, depending on where you live. Find more details on local restrictions tiers here.

Click through to find out what COVID level your local area is currently under.

The government has confirmed people will be allowed to return home for Christmas, regardless of what tier you are in or travelling to. Three households can form a temporary Christmas bubble from 23-27 December. Find more details on Christmas COVID restrictions here.

Whenever you leave the house, you must practise social distancing. This means ensuring you are at least two metres apart from anyone who you do not already live with.

The government also requires the mandatory wearing of face coverings in a number of public indoor settings.

It is currently mandatory to wear face coverings in shops, supermarkets, indoor transport hubs, indoor shopping centres, and on public transport.

Face coverings can reduce the spread of coronavirus in these instances. Learn how to make your own face coverings here.


How long does coronavirus live on surfaces?

Coronavirus can survive on different surfaces for different amounts of time.

While it is not known for sure exactly how long COVID-19 can live on surfaces, studies suggest that they can survive anywhere between a few hours to several days. This time can vary depending on the type of surface, temperature, humidity, and so on.

It is therefore recommended that you clean any potentially contaminated surfaces with a disinfectant. After cleaning a surface, do not touch your face and wash your hands with hot, soapy water or hand sanitiser.


What is The Independent Pharmacy doing to keep operating during COVID-19?

The Independent Pharmacy is a trusted online supplier of essential medicines, regulated and secured by a number of official bodies. These include:

We remain committed of ensuring our customers receive the medication they need, and we are still taking orders as usual.

With the rapidly unfolding changes and uncertainty caused by the current coronavirus pandemic, The Independent Pharmacy team is working exceptionally hard to cope with the extremely large demand that is being placed on our services at this challenging time.

We use a number of established supply networks to ensure our stock remains topped up wherever possible. This also means all our medicines are safe and genuine, ensuring our customers’ safety throughout the supply chain.


Dispatch & Delivery

Currently, all orders are being dispatched to meet the expected delivery times given in the checkout. However, these are not guaranteed dates and due to the incredible strain on the postal system, your parcel may experience delays in reaching you. You will receive tracking details by email and in your online account as soon as your order is dispatched and you will be able to follow the progress of your delivery with your courier of choice.

If you are currently self-isolating, you are able to add this to the delivery notes section in the checkout and all couriers will be doing their best to deliver your parcel in a manner that is safe for all parties.

Royal Mail have currently amended their Next Day Guaranteed before 1pm option to Next Day Guaranteed before 9pm. As such, we have updated this delivery option for the foreseeable future.

Royal Mail coronavirus advice states that it is still delivering during the lockdown, albeit with longer waiting times for packages. The World Health Organisation has advised that the probability of an infected person spreading the virus via post is low. The risk of catching COVID-19 from a package is also low.

Consequently, it may take longer than usual for your medicines to arrive. We therefore recommend you order in advance to avoid delays. We also ask our customers to order only what is essential to ensure all our patients can get the medication they need.

Summary: We are currently dispatching all orders in time to be delivered on the dates estimated in the checkout, however due to the strain placed on the postal system orders may take slightly longer than usual to reach you if you are in an area affected by local lockdown.


Telephone calls

Our telephone lines are operating as usual, Monday - Friday 08:30 - 17:00. If you require help or medical advice from our customer service team, the quickest and easiest way is contact us by email and we will do our best to respond within our normal four working hour window.

For more urgent healthcare needs or COVID-19 advice, please contact 111 in a non-urgent situation or 999 in an emergency.

Summary: Our customer service team is currently able to accept telephone calls, however, to keep our service as efficient as possible and ensure orders are dispatched on time it is best to contact us by email.



The massive increase in demand on healthcare services during the pandemic has caused some volatility in stock availability and pricing. We are reviewing our stock availability daily to try and ensure that the stock reflected on our website is as accurate as possible.

Summary: We are doing our best to keep as many products available and our prices as low as possible.



Is there a paracetamol shortage in the UK?

For those who are self-isolating at home, paracetamol is the main form of pain relief from the symptoms of COVID-19. It is also a common household medication.

Consequently, people are buying paracetamol in bulk. This means stocks throughout the UK in pharmacies or general stores are often low or non-existent. However, the government is taking measures to increase supply and build up stockpiles of paracetamol within the UK.


Where can I get paracetamol?

While national stocks of paracetamol are low, you can buy paracetamol from The Independent Pharmacy here, while stocks last.


How long does coronavirus live on surfaces?

It is not known for definite how long coronavirus can survive on surfaces. Estimates range from 1-2 hours to several days, and this can vary depending on the type of surface involved, the temperature of the surface, the humidity of the environment, and other factors.

If you think a surface has been contaminated with the coronavirus, clean it thoroughly with a disinfectant. Do not touch your face while doing so, and always wash your hands afterward with hand sanitiser or hot water and soap.


How long does it take for coronavirus symptoms to appear?

It is not known for definite how long it takes for symptoms of the coronavirus to appear. This period is known as the “incubation period”, and estimates generally range between 1-14 days. However, the most common instances of incubation are around five days.

However, not everyone who catches COVID-19 displays symptoms, or they may only display very mild symptoms.


Can I get a coronavirus testing kit in the UK?

If you are concerned that you or a loved one has contracted coronavirus, it is possible to purchase a self-testing kit online. These are finger-prick kits that test your blood for coronavirus antibodies.

The test will determine whether or not you have already had the virus and if you have become slightly immune to it too.


What do the statistics for COVID-19 say?

Statistics show that cases of coronavirus continue to be reported around the world. You can find the latest COVID-19 statistics from the World Health Organisation here.

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