Any patient who does not need to be admitted to hospital — be they in care homes or in their own homes — will be held in the virtual ward space. The virtual ward will also provide a safety net for patients who are discharged from hospital.

The virtual ward ensures a high degree of monitoring for patients with covid-19 or other respiratory illnesses, so that they know what to do should certain symptoms develop.

Services for patients in the community are led by primary care while services for patient discharged from hospital can be led by same day emergency care services. The patient groups have different levels of risk with those in the community usually being lower risk while those discharged from hospitals usually have a higher risk of readmission.

Patients are monitored with a pulse oximeter and a diary. Follow up can be 'active' for higher risk patients, including those 65 or older, or who have obesity, are of minority ethnic status, have co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension or ischaemic heart disease or who are on high-dose immunosuppression. 

Follow up for lower risk patients can be 'passive', with advice to contact health services if symptoms worsen.