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How long to self-isolate

How long you need to self-isolate depends on if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) or you've been in close contact with someone who does.

If you have symptoms and have not had a test, stay at home and get a test as soon as possible. You can get a test to check if you have coronavirus on GOV.UK.

If you have symptoms or tested positive

Self-isolate for at least 10 days

Self-isolate for at least 10 days if:

  • you have symptoms of coronavirus and you tested positive or did not have a test
  • you tested positive but have not had symptoms

If you have symptoms, the 10 days starts from when they started.

If you have not had symptoms, the 10 days starts from when you had the test. But if you get symptoms after your test, self-isolate for a further 10 days from when your symptoms start.

Stop self-isolating after 10 days if you feel OK

You can stop self-isolating after 10 days if either:

  • you do not have any symptoms
  • you just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste – these can last for weeks after the infection has gone

Keep self-isolating if you feel unwell

Keep self-isolating if you have any of these symptoms after 10 days:

  • a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • a runny nose or sneezing
  • feeling or being sick
  • diarrhoea

Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone.

If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.

If someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive

Self-isolate for 14 days

Self-isolate for 14 days if someone you live with:

  • has symptoms of coronavirus and tested positive or did not have a test
  • tested positive but has not had symptoms

This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.

The 14 days starts from:

  • when the first person in your home started having symptoms
  • the day they were tested, if they have not had symptoms – if they get symptoms after they were tested, self-isolate for a further 14 days from when their symptoms start

When to stop self-isolating

You can stop self-isolating after 14 days if you do not get any symptoms.

What to do if you get symptoms

Get a test to check if you have coronavirus on GOV.UK if you get symptoms while you're self-isolating.

If your test is negative, keep self-isolating for the rest of the 14 days.

If your test is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started. This might mean you're self-isolating for longer than 14 days overall.

If someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive

If the person has symptoms

Self-isolate for 14 days if both of these apply:

  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms of coronavirus and tested positive
  • you have been in close contact with them since their symptoms started or during the 48 hours before their symptoms started

The 14 days starts from when you were last in close contact with them.

If the person tested positive but has not had symptoms

Self-isolate for 14 days if both of these apply:

  • someone in your support bubble tested positive but has not had symptoms
  • you have been in close contact with them since they had the test or during the 48 hours before they had the test

The 14 days starts from when you were last in close contact with them.

When to stop self-isolating

You can stop self-isolating after 14 days if you do not get any symptoms.

What to do if you get symptoms

Get a test to check if you have coronavirus on GOV.UK if you get symptoms while you're self-isolating.

If your test is negative, keep self-isolating for the rest of the 14 days.

If your test is positive, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started. This might mean you're self-isolating for longer than 14 days overall.

If you’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app

Self-isolate for 14 days

Self-isolate for 14 days if either:

  • you get a text, email or call from NHS Test and Trace telling you to self-isolate
  • you get an alert from the NHS COVID-19 app telling you to self-isolate

This is because you've been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus and there's a chance you might have caught it.

You need to self-isolate for 14 days because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.

Find out what to do if you've been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID-19 app.

Information:

Help and support while you're staying at home

While you're self-isolating:

  • you can get help with everyday tasks, like collecting shopping or medicines, from an NHS volunteer
  • you might be able to get sick pay or other types of financial support if you're not able to work

Find out about help and financial support while you're self-isolating.

Page last reviewed: 27 November 2020
Next review due: 4 December 2020