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Self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms

Last updated 01 April 2020

Self-isolation prevents the spread of coronavirus

Do not leave your home if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does.

Not leaving your home is called self-isolation.

When you self isolate you must:

  • Not leave your home for any reason, other than to exercise once a day – but stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people
  • Not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • Not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home

If you have a garden you can use it.

How long to self-isolate

If you have symptoms

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you'll need to self-isolate for 7 days.

After 7 days:

  • If you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to self-isolate
  • If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal

You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

If you live with someone who has symptoms

If you live with someone who has symptoms, you'll need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.

If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms.

If you get symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you're self-isolating for longer than 14 days.

If you do not get symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 14 days.

After self-isolation
You still need to stay at home when you finish self-isolating, but you can make 4 types of essential trip:
  • Shopping for essentials (food, medicine, etc) in as few visits to the shop as possible
  • One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • Travelling to and from work where the work absolutely cannot be done from home
  • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person

If you have symptoms and live with a vulnerable person

If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to arrange for them to stay with friends or family for 14 days.

If you have to stay at home together, try to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from each other. If possible, try not to share a bed.

Stopping the spread of coronavirus in your home

Follw these NHS recommendations to prevent the spread of coronvirus in your home:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water often - do this for at least 20 seconds
  • Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water not available
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • Clean objects and surfaces you touch often (like door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products
  • Clean a shared bathroom each time you use it, for example by wiping the surfaces you have touched
    • Do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels

    Treating coronavirus symptoms at home

    To keep well while you're at home:

    • Rest and sleep
    • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration – drink enough so your pee is light yellow and clear
    • Take paracetamol to lower your temperature

    If you need medical help while self-isolating

    To protect others, do not go to places like a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Stay at home.

    Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if