Do I have to self isolate? When you need to quarantine according to government rules - and how long self isolation should last
If you develop any of the main symptoms of coronavirus you should get a test as soon as possible
For many people coronavirus will be a mild illness, with some not experiencing any symptoms at all, meaning it can be difficult to know when to self-isolate.
Self-isolation is hugely important when it comes to preventing further spread of the virus, so it’s important to know what symptoms to look for and when to get tested.
When should I self-isolate?
Self-isolation means you should not leave your home because you have, or are suspected to have, coronavirus.
You should enter a period of quarantine immediately if any of the following factor apply:
- You have one of the three main symptoms of coronavirus. These include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- You have tested positive for coronavirus
- You live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive
- Someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
- You have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
- You have arrived in the UK from a country with a high coronavirus risk that is not included on the UK government’s approved list of travel corridors
If you think you have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, but you do not have symptoms and have not been told to self-isolate, you should continue to follow social distancing advice.
When should I get tested?
You should get a test as soon as possible if you develop any one of the main symptoms of coronavirus. These include:
- A high temperature
- A new, continuous cough
- A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
The test needs to be taken within the first five days of having symptoms. If you have no symptoms, or have different symptoms to the three main ones listed above, you do not need to get a test.
How long should I self-isolate for?
If you have symptoms of coronavirus, regardless of how mild, you should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.
If you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for coronavirus, you need to self-isolate for at least 10 days, starting from the day the test was taken. If you develop symptoms during this isolation period, you should restart your 10 day isolation period from the day you developed symptoms.
If you still have a temperature after 10 days, you should continue to self-isolate and seek medical advice. You do not need to self-isolate after 10 days if you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
If you live with others, all other members of your household need to stay at home and should not leave the house for 14 days. The 14 day self-isolation period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill or, if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.
If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for at least 10 days from when their symptoms appear, regardless of what day they are on in their original 14 day isolation period.
If you develop coronavirus symptoms again at any point after ending your first period of isolation, you need to follow the guidance on self-isolation again.
In the event that you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, you should use the NHS 111 online Covid-19 service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111, and for a medical emergency dial 999.