Skip to main content

Self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Self-isolation helps stop coronavirus spreading

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

This is called self-isolation.

If you are self-isolating, 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

You can use your garden, if you have one.

Information:

If you're not sure if you need to self-isolate

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (a high temperature or a new, continuous cough), use the 111 coronavirus service to find out what to do.

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 go out for essential trips such as buying food.

Read about coronavirus advice for everyone.

Get an isolation note to give to your employer

If you live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus, you can get an isolation note to send to your employer as proof you need to stay off work.

You do not need to get a note from a GP.

Information:

If you have symptoms of coronavirus and need to stay at home, use the 111 coronavirus service to get an isolation note.

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.

Reducing the spread of infection in your home

Do

  • wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds

  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are 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

Don't

  • do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels

Information:

Read more advice about self-isolation on GOV.UK.

Treating coronavirus symptoms at home

To help yourself stay 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
Can I take ibuprofen if I have coronavirus?

There is currently no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus (COVID-19) worse.

But until we have more information, take paracetamol to treat the symptoms of coronavirus, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you.

If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.

What to do 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.

Urgent advice: Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse

Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

If you need medical help not related to coronavirus, you may be able to get help online or over the phone.

Read our advice about getting medical help from home.

Page last reviewed: 30 March 2020
Next review due: 31 March 2020