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Official NHS advice on what to do when you go into self-isolation

With coronavirus cases on the rise and more and more people being unable to get tested for the virus, many of those with suspected symptoms are choosing to self-isolate.

Self-isolation is when you significantly reduce your contact with the outside world and do not leave your home because you have or might have Covid-19.

This helps stop the virus spreading to other people and is different to social distancing and shielding.

But what can or can’t you do if you are self-isolating at home? The NHS advice is as follows:

  • You must not leave your home if you’re self-isolating.

  • 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

  • It is also advised to tell people you’ve been in close contact with over the previous 48 hours that you have symptoms of the virus.




Close contact is classified as face to face contact under one metre for any length of time – this can include in conversation or coughing on them.

It also includes being withing two metres of someone for more than 15 minutes and anyone who has spent a lot of time in your house such as a cleaner or builder.

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The NHS website writes that these people don’t need to self-isolate unless they are instructed to do so by the Test and Trace service but should be extra vigilant on social distancing and hand washing.

If you are self-isolated because you have covid symptoms or have tested positive you usually need to isolate for 10 – 14 days.

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

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

If you need support while isolating the website states that help is available from NHS volunteers who can collect shopping or medicines for you.

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