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What to do if you have coronavirus (COVID-19) or symptoms of COVID-19

Try to stay at home and avoid contact with others if you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or have symptoms of COVID-19.

Try to stay at home and away from others

Try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you:

  • have any symptoms of COVID-19, and have a high temperature or you do not feel well enough to go to work or do your normal activities
  • have tested positive for COVID-19 – this means it's very likely you have the virus

Important

You should avoid being in close contact with people at higher risk from COVID-19.

This is particularly important if their immune system means they’re at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, even if they’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine.

There’s further advice if you’re eligible for COVID-19 treatments.

You can find separate guidance for children and young people aged 18 or under on GOV.UK.

Find out about help and support while you're staying at home because of COVID-19

What to do if you've tested positive for COVID-19

If you have COVID-19, you can pass on the virus to other people for up to 10 days from when your infection starts. Many people will no longer be infectious to others after 5 days.

You should:

  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days
  • avoiding meeting people at higher risk from COVID-19 for 10 days, especially if their immune system means they’re at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, even if they’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine

This starts from the day after you did the test.

If a child or young person aged 18 or under tests positive for COVID-19, they should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days. This starts from the day after they did the test.

Children and young people tend to be infectious to others for less time than adults. If they’re well and do not have a temperature after 3 days, there’s a much lower risk that they’ll pass on COVID-19 to others.

If you are feeling unwell and do not test positive or test negative for COVID-19

If you do not feel well enough to go to work and do your normal activities, you should:

  • try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people
  • avoid meeting people at higher risk from COVID-19, especially if their immune system means they’re at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, even if they’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine

You can go back to your normal activities if you:

  • feel well enough to do so
  • do not have a high temperature

You can find separate guidance for children and young people aged 18 or under on GOV.UK.

When to seek medical advice

Go to 111.nhs.uk, call 111 or call your GP surgery if:

  • you’re worried about your symptoms
  • your symptoms get worse

In an emergency, go to A&E immediately or call 999.

How to avoid passing COVID-19 on to others

Do

  • try to work from home if you can – if you're unable to work from home, ask your employer about options available to you

  • stay at home if you can – this helps reduce the number of people you have contact with

  • avoid contact with people at higher risk from COVID-19 for 10 days, especially if their immune system means they’re at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, even if they’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine

  • follow advice on how to avoid spreading COVID-19 to people you live with

  • let people who need to come into your home know that you’ve tested positive or have symptoms – they can then take steps to protect themselves, such as wearing a face covering that fits well, staying away from you as much as they can, and washing their hands regularly

  • contact your healthcare provider and tell them about your positive test result or symptoms if you’re asked to attend a medical or dental appointment in person

  • ask friends, family or neighbours to get food or other essentials for you

If you leave your home

If you need to leave your home in the 5 days after your positive test result or while you're feeling unwell, you can take steps to avoid spreading COVID-19.

Do

  • wear a face covering that fits snugly against your face and has more than 1 layer

  • avoid contact with people at higher risk from COVID-19, especially if their immune system means they’re at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19, even if they’ve had a COVID-19 vaccine

  • avoid indoor or crowded places (including public transport or large social gatherings) or where there is not much fresh air

  • do any exercise outdoors and where you will not be in close contact with other people

  • avoid touching your face

  • cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough

  • wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser, after you cough, sneeze or blow your nose, and before you eat and handle food

Advice in other parts of the UK

Page last reviewed: 4 July 2022
Next review due: 28 October 2022