Coronavirus (COVID-19): self-isolating

If you have symptoms of or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 you must self-isolate at home for the required amount of time. If you have been confirmed as a close contact of someone with COVID-19 you are also required to self-isolate.

Self-isolating

If you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, you should begin self-isolating and book a test. If your test result is positive you should not not leave your home for 10 days from when your symptoms started.

This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious. If your test result is negative you are no longer required to self-isolate.

If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all other household members must stay at home and  the symptomatic member should be tested.

If the test result is positive then all household members should continue to self-isolate for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. If the test result is negative for the symptomatic household member then the household can stop self-isolating.

Testing for coronavirus

People who have symptoms of COVID-19 are now eligible to be tested for it. You can book a test via the GOV.UK website.

Testing is also available for the following groups:

  • Health and Social Care (HSC) staff members
  • care home residents and staff
  • primary care workers
  • essential workers

Who should self-isolate and for how long

Self-isolating if you get a positive test result

While waiting for your test or if you receive a positive diagnosis for COVID-19:

  • stay at home for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started
  • after 10 days from when your symptoms started:
    • if you have not had a high temperature for 48 hours, you no longer need to self-isolate
    • if you still have a high temperature, you need to self-isolate until your temperature has returned to normal for 48 hours
  • you do not need to continue self-isolating if you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell/taste after 10 days, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone

Self-isolating if you get a negative test result

If you receive a negative diagnosis for COVID-19 you can stop self-isolating as long as:

  • everyone you live with who has symptoms of COVID-19 has tested negative – you need to keep self-isolating if someone in your household tests positive, or develops symptoms of COVID-19 and has not been tested
  • you feel well enough
  • you are not a close contact of a confirmed case

If you develop new or worsening symptoms, you should self-isolate and can arrange to be re-tested.

Self-isolating if you are identified as a close contact

If you are identified as a close contact you will be asked to self-isolate for up to 14 days, depending on when you last came into contact with the person. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell.

You will also be asked to continue to self-isolate if you have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case even if you have received a negative test result, because it can take up to 14 days for the symptoms of infection to develop.

If you are a close contact and have no symptoms, your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene.

Self-isolating if a member of your household has COVID-19

If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to stay at home and self-isolate.

If the person with symptoms tests positive for COVID-19, everyone in the household without symptoms will need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person in the home started having symptoms.

If you develop symptoms during this 14 day period, you’ll need to stay at home for at least 10 days from the day your symptoms started (regardless of what day you are on in the original 14 day period)

You will also be asked to continue to self-isolate if a member of your household has COVID-19 even if you have received a negative test result, because it can take up to 14 days for the symptoms of infection to develop.

Ways to make staying at home more manageable

While staying at home it can be helpful to:

  • use delivery services, if possible, to deliver things like food shopping and medicines
  • order repeat prescriptions by phone or online and ask your pharmacy about getting your medication delivered
  • think of other ways to keep in contact with people
  • develop a daily routine -get up at the same time as normal and plan how you will spend your day – cooking, reading, tidying, watching TV
  • listen to the radio or an audio book if your home feels too quiet
  • get as much fresh air as possible

If possible try and build some physical activity into your daily routine such as cleaning or just getting up and walking about the house.

Looking after your mental wellbeing

You may find that social distancing and staying at home can be boring, frustrating or lonely and that your mood and feelings are affected.

You may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping and you might miss being with other people.

There is advice and guidance if about how to look after your mental wellbeing:

NHS 111 service

You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 10 days, contact NHS 111 online.

If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

    A remote interpreting service for British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) users in Northern Ireland has been introduced to provide access to NHS 111 and Health and Social Care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. More information is available on the Health Services page.

    Advice for blind and partially sighted people 

    RNIB NI and Guide Dogs have put together advice for blind and partially sighted people during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes contact information and advice on how to get support in your local community. 

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