Self-isolation – a summary

For households who think they may have possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, below are the key information points. Detailed information can be found at


How long do I stay at home?

  • If you live alone and show symptoms, stay at home for 7 days.
  • If you live with others, ALL household members should stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

Do I see someone for diagnosis?

People with coronavirus symptoms should NOT go into a pharmacy (or GP surgery/hospital) and don’t need to notify 111 that they are self-isolating. If symptoms are getting worse, or do not get better after 7 days, use 111 NHS online. Only call 111 if there is no internet access.

What about vulnerable people in my home?

The elderly or those with underlying health conditions should be moved out of the house to be with friends/family. If they cannot be moved, stay away from them as much as possible (distance of 2 metres, sleep separately, if possible use separate bathroom, use separate towels, don’t use the kitchen at the same time).

What about my pets?

At present there is no evidence that animals such as cats and dogs can be infected.

What about visitors?

No visitors should come into the house.

When can I go back out?

If you have had symptoms, you can end the self-isolation after 7 days (from the day you first became ill) if you are feeling better and no longer have a temperature. If living with others, the whole household can end isolation after 14 days. If other members of the family become ill, the person with new symptoms has to stay at home for a further 7 days. The 14 days does not start again for all the family.

A cough may persist for several weeks despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean that someone needs to continue to self-isolate.

Tips to make self-isolation easier:

  • Think about access to food and medication
  • Ask for supplies to be dropped off (they should be left on the doorstep)
  • Keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or online
  • Keep busy – for example, do activities such as reading, cooking, learning a new skill (such as playing an instrument or taking an online learning course), watching box sets and movies
  • Do light exercise in the garden if feeling well enough

Signs of anxiety include:

Keep washing hands regularly (particularly after coughing/sneezing)

Keep a distance from others where possible (at least 2 metres) and sleep alone if you have symptoms

Don’t go out for food unless essential and, if out, keep a safe distance from others

Don’t shake dirty laundry, as this can spread the virus through the air

Clean frequently touched surfaces with detergents/bleach

Double bag any personal waste (e.g. tissues) and put aside for 72 hours before putting with household waste

Drink plenty of fluids and take paracetamol to help with symptoms

Cover the mouth with tissues when sneezing/coughing and dispose of the tissue, or cough into the crook of the elbow.

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