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When to self-isolate and what to do

What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19).

This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.

Self-isolation is different to:
social distancing – general advice for everyone to avoid close contact with other people
shielding – advice for people at high risk from coronavirus

When to self-isolate
Self-isolate immediately if:

you have any symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste)
you’ve tested positive for coronavirus – this means you have coronavirus
you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
you’re told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app
you arrive in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk – see GOV.UK: how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK

What is a support bubble?

If you think you’ve been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, but you do not have symptoms and have not been told to self-isolate, continue to follow social distancing advice.

How to self-isolate
You must not leave your home if you’re self-isolating.


    try to stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from anyone you do not live with (or anyone not in your support bubble)

    wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

    use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

    wash your hands as soon as you get home

    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 immediately and wash your hands afterwards


    do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can

    do not go on public transport or use taxis

    do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online or by phone, or ask someone to bring it to your home

    do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for people providing essential care

    do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one

When to get a test
Get a test as soon as possible if you have any symptoms of coronavirus.

The symptoms are:

    a high temperature
    a new, continuous cough
    a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

The test needs to be done in the first 5 days of having symptoms.

You do not need to get a test if you have no symptoms or if you have different symptoms.

Get a test to check if you have coronavirus
Tell people you’ve been in close contact with that you have symptoms
You may want to tell people you’ve been in close contact with in the past 48 hours that you might have coronavirus.

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