Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should stay at home for at least seven days, official advice states. And if you live with other people, they should stay at home for at least 14 days, to avoid spreading the infection outside the home.
After 14 days, anyone you live with who does not have symptoms can return to their normal routine, advises the NHS. But, if anyone in your home gets symptoms, they should stay at home for seven days from the day their symptoms start. Even if it means they’re at home for longer than 14 days.
Here’s what you need to know about self-isolation – whether you’ve been told to self-isolate yourself or are a concerned partner, housemate or friend.
If you’ve been told to self-isolate
Self-isolation means remaining indoors and avoiding contact with other people –so not going to work, school or public areas, and not using public transport. You shouldn’t have visitors to your home and you should ask friends and family members to drop off supplies (food, medicine, etc) on your doorstep.
If you order takeaways or online food shops, tell the driver to leave the goods outside, in the porch, or as appropriate for your home. You shouldn’t have any physical contact with them.
For those living in house- or flat-shares, the situation is a little more complicated. Those in isolation should separate themselves from other people and stay in their room with the window open. They should only leave the room if they need to – for example, to go to the toilet, wash or make something to eat.
PHE advises that they should wear a face mask if they’ve been issued one. If they can’t wear a face mask, the people who they live with should wear one while in the same room.
Those self-isolating should sleep in a separate bed to their partner, and also try to keep away from pets. If this is unavoidable, they should wash hands before and after contact with their pet, PHE advises.
They should also use a separate bathroom to others if they can. The isolated person should use separate towels from other household members, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand hygiene purposes. They should use the bathroom last and clean it thoroughly after use, PHE advises.
With shared kitchen facilities, the isolated person should use it when others are out or not using it, and make sure they use separate tea towels. Dishwashers are best for removing germs but if there isn’t one, dishes should be washed with hot water, washing up liquid, and dried thoroughly. PHE advises those self-isolating to take meals back to their room to eat in order to limit exposure to others.
It warns that those in isolation shouldn’t share any of the following with people in their home when they have used them: dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels and bedding.
Laundry, bedding and towels should be placed in a plastic bag and washed once it’s known that tests for coronavirus are negative.
If you live with someone who is self-isolating
Try to avoid coming into contact with them. Avoid sharing kitchen and bathroom essentials – as listed above – like hand towels, tea towels, plates, bowls, cups and cutlery. It might be worth keeping things in your room so you know you’re the only one using them. And PHE advises against having visitors coming in and out of your home.