The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:
- new continuous cough and/or
- high temperature
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.
- if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. (See ending isolation section below for more information)
- if you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
- it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
- for anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period. (See ending isolation section below for more information
- if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
- if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
- if you have coronavirus symptoms:
- do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
- you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
- testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
- plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household
- ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
- wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
- if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999
Who this guidance is for
This advice is intended for:
- people with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well
- those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus
Things to help you prepare now
Make a plan for your household or family
The best thing you can do now is plan for how you can adapt your daily routine, and that of others in your household, to be able to follow this advice. Some of the ways in which you could prepare include:
- talk to your neighbours and family and exchange phone numbers of household contacts
- consider and plan for those in your home who are considered vulnerable
- create a contact list with phone numbers of neighbours, schools, employer, chemist, NHS 111
- set up online shopping accounts if possible
Will my household be tested if we think we have coronavirus symptoms?
Testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home.
Why staying at home is very important
It is very important that individuals with symptoms that may be due to coronavirus and their household members stay at home. Staying at home will help control the spread of the virus to friends, the wider community, and particularly the most vulnerable.
Those with symptoms and living alone should remain at home for 7 days after the onset of their symptoms (see ending self-isolation below). This will reduce the risk of you infecting others.
If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, then household members must stay at home and not leave your house for 14 days (see ending self-isolation below). If possible, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials, other than exercise, and in that case at a safe distance from others. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in your house became ill.
If not possible, then you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get supplies.
It is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or may already be infected. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
Staying at home may be difficult and frustrating, but there are things that you can do to help make it easier. These include:
- plan ahead and think about what you will need in order to be able to stay at home for the full 7 or 14 days
- talk to your employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things you will need to make your stay at home a success
- think about and plan how you can get access to food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period
- ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online, but make sure these are left outside your home for you to collect
- make sure that you keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media
- think about things you can do during your time at home. People who have successfully completed a period of staying at home have kept themselves busy with activities such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
- many people find it helpful to plan out the full 14 days, such as on a make-shift calendar. You may also find it helpful to plan in advance what you will do if, for example, someone in the household were to feel much worse, such as have difficulties breathing
- when you are feeling better, remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing. Look for online classes or courses that can help you take light exercise in your home
While you are staying at home, make sure you do the following things
Stay at home
You and all household members should remain at home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.
If possible, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials, other than exercise, and in that case at a safe distance from others. The 14-day period starts from the day the first person in your house became ill.
If you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, or walking a dog, you will need to ask friends or relatives. Alternatively, you can order medication by phone or online. You can also order your shopping online. Make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online. The delivery driver should not come into your home.
If you are an employee and unable to work due to coronavirus, please refer to this guidance from the Department for Work and Pensions to find out about the support that is available to you.
If you are living with children
Keep following this advice to the best of your ability, however, we are aware that not all these measures will be possible.
What we have seen so far is that children with coronavirus appear to be less severely affected. It is nevertheless important to do your best to follow this guidance.
If you have a vulnerable person living with you
Minimise as much as possible the time any vulnerable family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from vulnerable people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If they can, they should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure they use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.
If you do share a toilet and bathroom with a vulnerable person, it is important that you clean them every time you use them (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with the vulnerable person using the facilities first.
If you share a kitchen with a vulnerable person, avoid using it while they are present. If they can, they should take their meals back to their room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If the vulnerable person is using their own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.