A view of the Secretariat Building, with Members States’ flags flying in the foreground, at United Nations headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

I'm Sick


Key Points

  • Isolate yourself, drink plenty of fluids, rest and take medications for fever and other general symptoms.
  • Seek medical help by phone if you are getting worse or call 911 if you have serious shortness of breath.
  • Testing is available from the UN medical service subject to capacity – see the ‘COVID-19 Testing in the New York Area’ page of this website.
  • If you get tested contact the medical service in NY at osh@un.org for confidential advice and follow up.

The best possible care you can get is from a healthcare practitioner who knows you and your medical history. If you don’t have one already, seek out a primary care physician. If you can’t, ensure you know how to see a doctor where you live (and where you work).

Most people, just over 80%, will have a mild Illness – fever or cough or sore throat or shortness of breath.

If you develop these or related ‘cold/flu’ symptoms, do the following:

Stay at home or in your accommodation. Do not go to work or attend meetings in person, do not go to public places or use public transport (including taxis or lift services) and consider whether you should visit any friends, who are elderly or have a chronic illness.

Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing — do not use your hands. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently and don’t touch your face. As per NYC advice, wear a non-medical mask when you go outside your home to protect others.

If you have mild symptoms:

Take symptomatic treatment for your illness. Most people (more than 80%) will have a mild illness that can be effectively treated with simple over-the-counter medications

  • Drink plenty of fluids and get rest.
  • Take Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol) 500 mg every 4-6 hours, or as directed. Note that after initial media reports, the WHO no longer recommends against using an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen (e.g. Advil, Brufen) 200-400 mg every 4-6 hours.
  • Do NOT take hydroxychloroquine or related drugs unless specifically prescribed for you by a doctor. The benefits are limited, if any, and the risks are significant for anyone not under active medical care.
  • Take ‘cold and flu’ medicines, if required, but note they often contain acetaminophen and a cough suppressant or sedative – do not take both cold and flu medicine and Tylenol together or you risk taking too high a dose.
  • Wear a mask to protect others but stay home – strictly.
  • Remember that at present NYC Department of Health is strongly recommending against testing persons with mild illness, who can be safely managed at home. Testing makes no difference to the treatment you will receive. Testing may be done as part of a clinical review process by the UN medical service in New York – see the ‘Covid-19 Testing in the NY Area’ page.

If you have moderate symptoms with persistent fevers, significant cough or some shortness of breath:

  • Call your primary care physician, OR
  • Call an ‘urgent care center’. There are many of these that you search for online by using the term ‘urgent care’ - Medrite, Minute Care, CityMD etc. OR
  • Call your Insurer's ‘telehealth’ line (see below).
  • Tell the clinic staff your symptoms, any exposures to people with COVID-19, and any travel you have had in the last 14 days.
  • Follow the clinics instructions. If they ask you to come to a clinic and you are coughing, wear a mask if you have one.

You will be treated or referred according to your symptoms. There is no antibiotic, medication or vaccination that can cure or prevent COVID-19, and at present, the NYC Department of Health is strongly recommending against testing persons who can be safely managed at home.

If you have severe symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, or chestpain:

  • Call the closest emergency department, OR
  • Call 911.

If you get tested:

We highly recommend that you contact the medical service at osh@un.org. We will treat you advice confidentially and call to check you are well.

To speak with a doctor at anytime using your Insurer's ‘Telehealth’ service

UN US-based plans have telehealth services where you can have a virtual consultaion with a doctor.  You will need your member details, and may need to download software to access the service. Depending on the service provided, there may be a co-pay required. Further information is available on the ‘UN NY Health Insurance Plans’ page of this site.

Aetna:  Teladoc.com/aetna or 1-855-teladoc

Empire BlueCross/BlueShield:  Go to livehealthonline.com 

Cigna: Access the Global Telehealth facility through the Cigna Wellbeing app

See also the Telehealth page.

To find Primary Care physicians / Walk in clinics

  • In New York City, call 311, or visit nychealthandhospitals.org to find a provider.
  • In New Jersey, call 1 800-222-1222 or 1 800-962-1253 specifically about COVID-19, or visit   https://www.njdoctorlist.com/NJPublic 
  • In Connecticut visit the CT Department of Public Health  

To access internal or external Mental Health support

Internal Services to NY based Staff: 

  1. UN Secretariat Staff:   In addition to the online mindfulness & wellness workshops daily, the UN Staff Counsellors’ Office has mental health professionals available for support though daily drop-in group sessions or individual appointments (arranged via SCOHQ@UN.Org ). 
  2. UNICEF Staff:  Contact your local Staff Counsellor internally at staffcounsellor@unicef.org
  3. Other NY-based Agencies:  Contact CISMU Stress Counsellors at  undsscismu@un.org      

External Services:

  1. Information about accessing tele-mental health services via your insurance is available on the Accessing external mental health care page, along with additional stress management and wellbeing tips and on the Telehealth page.
  2. NYC-based Staff & Family can access External Services in NYC:  NYC Well offers mental health services to anyone living in Manhattan and the five boroughs, including  crisis counselling, short-term counseling, and connection to ongoing mental health and substance misuse services.  Visit  NYC Well’s website  or if your symptoms are overwhelming, call the confidential helpline for mental health and substance misuse services. Trained counselors can provide you with support 24/7 in over 200 languages. CALL: 1-888-NYC-Well (692-9355), TEXT: “Well” to 65173, or CHAT ONLINE at nyc.gov/nycwell.
  3. NYS-based Staff & Family can access External Services:  Call the New York State’s COVID-19 Emotional Support Helpline at 1-844-863-9314 to talk to specially trained volunteer professionals. They are available to listen, support and offer referrals from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. 
  4. For staff outside NY: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counselling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.  The Helpline is staffed by trained counsellors from a network of crisis call centers located across the United States. These counselors provide crisis counseling for people in emotional distress related to any disaster, information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families, Tips for healthy coping, referrals to local crisis call centers for additional follow-up care and support.  Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counsellor.

COVID-19 hotlines

  • In New York, call 1-844-NYC-4NYC
  • In New Jersey call 1-800-222-1222
  • In Connecticut call 211