Reducing the spread of COVID-19 within the household in general
Coronavirus spreads easily within households and when families gather together.
People who have COVID-19 can infect others from around two days before symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after.
You can pass the infection to others, even if you have no symptoms, which is why you always need to be careful.
COVID-19 can spread:
- through direct physical contact
- through droplets exhaled from your mouth or nose
- through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects
- in the air, particularly in poorly ventilated shared spaces
The most important ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are:
- social distancing
- washing your hands regularly
- good respiratory hygiene (using and disposing of tissues)
- wearing face coverings when inside public areas
- cleaning surfaces
- keeping indoor spaces well ventilated
Reducing the spread within your household if you have COVID-19
If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, the rest of your household are at higher risk of developing coronavirus.
Everyone in the household will need to self-isolate for 10 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms.
If you develop symptoms during this 10-day period, you’ll need to book at test and stay at home for at least 10 days from the day your symptoms started if it is positive.
If it's negative you will still need to complete 10 days isolation from day the first person in your household had symptoms.
If you have COVID-19, there are practical steps that you can take to protect the members of your household.
If possible, you should try and arrange for one room in your home to be just for you. Try to spend the majority of your time in this room. This could include eating or sleeping.
Ask the people you live with to help by bringing your meals to your door if possible.
If possible, use a separate bathroom too.
Spend as little time as possible in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas.
Avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present.
You should try to limit how long you are in a room with others. Think about when you use the shared areas of your home so that only one person is there at a time.
Clean the shared space each time you use it, for example by wiping the surfaces you’ve touched with usual household cleaning products.
Do not share towels.
Wear a face covering when spending time in shared areas inside your home to minimise the risk of spread to others.
Keep your house well-ventilated by opening a window. Opening windows often is an easy way to stop the virus collecting in the air.
If it's cold outside, it still helps if you can open the window even slightly to allow the air to circulate. Then open windows wider for short, sharp bursts of 10 to 15 minutes regularly throughout the day where it is possible to do so.
Keep your distance
Keep at least two metres away from other members of your household as much as possible.
The more distance you can keep between you, the less chance there is of spreading the virus.
Frequently clean surfaces in your home and wash your hands regularly.
Pay particular attention to shared areas of the home, such as kitchens, bathrooms and surfaces that are frequently touched, such as taps, toilet, fridge, door handles, tables and kettles.
Try to avoid sharing or touching things that other people have used, unless you know that they have been cleaned recently with disinfectant. This includes towels, taps and toothbrushes.
Reducing the spread between households
To stop the spread of COVID-19 you should avoid close contact with anyone you do not live with.
If you and your household are self-isolating
If you or one of your household members has COVID-19 and are self-isolating, you should not leave your house unless it is absolutely essential.
You should not meet with other households until your isolation periods are complete.
The same applies if isolating for other reasons, for example after travel.
If you and your household are not self-isolating and do not have symptoms of COVID-19
If you have to spend time indoors with people who are not from your household (or household bubble) for permitted reasons you should:
- try to stay at least two metres apart
- wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- open windows for short, sharp bursts of 10 to 15 minutes regularly throughout the day
- leave windows open a small amount continuously
Airing indoor spaces is particularly important when:
- you have visitors (when permitted) or tradespeople, or a care worker in your home
If regulations permit and you decide to meet someone who is not from your household (or household bubble) you should:
- consider whether meeting up is essential and cannot be postponed or replaced by safer forms of interaction
- identify where in-person interactions could be replaced by virtual events or postponed until an appropriate future date
- consider replacing indoor gatherings with outdoor activities - this will provide more physical space and better ventilation
- remember most infections happen indoors in private homes where people get close to each other
- take special care to protect people who are particularly vulnerable to serious consequences from infection
- limit the time you spend with people from outside your household (or household bubble), especially if meeting indoors - indoor interactions should be restricted as much as possible
- consider that children should meet vulnerable relatives, including grandparents, outside where possible - brief meetings such as walking or playing outside are the safest
- limit interactions to the same small group of people as much as possible
- consider that meeting two groups of different people in the same week increases the risk of spreading the virus compared with meeting the same group of people twice
- agree the plans with those you're meeting beforehand so that everyone knows the safest way to meet, and make sure no-one has been asked to self-isolate or has symptoms of COVID-19 - a plan is more likely to be successful if it is agreed in advance
If anyone planning to meet develops symptoms of COVID-19 (that is, new continuous cough or fever/ temperature of 37.8oC or above or loss/ change in taste/ smell) the meeting should not go ahead and the person with symptoms should isolate, along with their household, and arrange a COVID-19 test.