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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 or tested positive

Self-isolate for at least 7 days

You must self-isolate for at least 7 days if:

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

The 7 days starts from when your symptoms started. If you have not had symptoms, the 7 days starts from when you had the test.

Stop self-isolating after 7 days if you feel OK

You can stop self-isolating after 7 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 7 days:

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

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 you live with someone who has symptoms or tested positive

Self-isolate for 14 days

You must self-isolate for 14 days if you live with (or are in a support bubble with) someone who:

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

The 14 days starts from when the first person started having symptoms.

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

Stop self-isolating after 14 days if you do not get symptoms

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

Keep self-isolating and get a test if you get symptoms

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

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

If your test is positive, you must self-isolate for 7 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

If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus, you may get a text, email or call from the NHS Test and Trace service.

They may tell you to self-isolate for 14 days.

Find out what to do if you're told you've been in contact with a person with coronavirus.

Information:

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

Page last reviewed: 3 July 2020
Next review due: 10 July 2020