Who this guidance is for
This advice is intended for people with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), including those with a diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID- 19) infection, who must remain at home until they are well.
Will I be tested if I think I have COVID-19?
Currently, access to testing is extremely limited. We will not be testing those self-isolating with mild symptoms. The following advice is designed to help people prevent the spread.
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 infection
If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), however mild:
- Do not leave your home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious
- Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home
- Ask your employer, friends and family to help you get the things you need to stay at home
- Stay at least 6 feet (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home if possible
- Sleep alone, if possible
- Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitizer
- Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible
You do not need to call your primary care provider to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact your primary care provider
Why staying at home is VERY IMPORTANT:
Staying at home while you have coronavirus (COVID-19) helps to protect your friends, colleagues and the wider community. It will also help to control the spread of the virus. We realize that staying at home may be difficult or frustrating, but there are things that you can do to help make it easier.
- Plan ahead and think about what you will need to be able to stay at home for the full 7 days
- Talk to your employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things you will need 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. Make sure any deliveries 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
- When you are feeling better, remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing. Look for online classes or courses to help you take light exercise in your home
While you are staying at home, make sure you do the following things:
- You should remain in your home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis. You cannot go for a walk.
- You will need to ask friends or relatives if you require help with buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication. Alternatively, you can order medication by phone or online. You can also order 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.
- At home, try as best you can to separate yourself from the people you live with
- Aim to stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened.
- Try to keep the window open as much as possible to enable ventilation and airflow as this will help to keep clean air moving through your room.
- Try to separate yourself from other people in your home and keep the door closed.
- If you cannot stay in a separate room aim to keep 6 feet (3 steps) away from the other people in your house.
- Try to keep yourself separated from other people as much as possible, and make sure everyone regularly follows the steps in this guidance (cleaning your hands, not touching your face and cleaning surfaces for example).
- Use your own toothbrushes, eating and drinking utensils (including cups and glasses in the bathroom and bedroom), dishes, towels, washcloths or bed linen.
- Do not share food and drinks.
- If you have a yard, it is fine to use it as long as you keep 6 feet away from other members of your household.
Use of shared spaces if you live with others
- Minimize the time you spend in shared spaces such as bathrooms, kitchens and sitting rooms as much as possible and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
- Aim to keep 6 feet (3 steps) away from people you live with and sleep in a different bed where possible.
- If you can, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household.
- Make sure you use separate towels from other people in your house, both for drying yourself after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.
- Ask your family or the people you live with to remember to use their own towels.
- If you share toilet and bathroom, it is important that you clean it after you have used it every time (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with).
- If you share a kitchen with others, avoid using it while others are present.
- Take your meals back to your room to eat.
- Use a dishwasher to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery, if you have one. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly, remembering to use a separate towel.
- 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.
If you live alone with children
Keep following this advice to the best of your ability, however we are aware that not all these measures will be possible. Children with COVID-19 appear to be less severely affected. It is nevertheless important to do your best to follow this guidance.
If a child develops symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from the onset of their symptoms.
If you live with an older, vulnerable or pregnant person
If you provide care to an elderly, vulnerable or pregnant person, follow this advice to the best of your ability.
If you are breastfeeding while infected
- There is currently no clinical evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted through breast milk.
- Infection can be spread to the baby in the same way as to anyone in close contact with you. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breast milk or by being in close contact with your child, however, this will be an individual decision and can be discussed with your health provider
- If you wish to breastfeed, take precautions to limit the potential spread of COVID-19 to the baby by:
- washing your hands before touching the baby, breast pump or bottles
- avoiding coughing or sneezing on the baby while feeding at the breast
- cleaning any breast pump as recommended by the manufacturer after each use
- considering asking someone who is well to feed your expressed breast milk to the baby
- If you are feeding with formula or expressed milk, sterilize the equipment carefully before each use. You should not share bottles or a breast pump with someone else.
Cleaning and disposal of waste
- Use your usual household products, such as detergents and bleach, as these will be very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces.
- Personal waste (such as used tissues) and disposable cleaning cloths can be stored securely within disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into a second bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste in the room in which you are self-isolating. Keep aside for at least 72 hours before putting into your usual external household waste bin.
- Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.
- Do not shake dirty laundry; this minimizes the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
- Wash items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
- If you do not have a washing machine, wait a further 72 hours after your 7-day isolation period has ended before taking your laundry to an outside laundry
What you can do to help yourself get better
- Drink water to keep yourself hydrated; you should drink enough during the day so your urine (pee) is a pale clear color.
- You can use over- the-counter medications, such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol, to help with some of your symptoms. Use these according to the instructions on the packet or label and do not exceed the recommended dose.
If you need to seek medical advice
- Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening. If it’s not an emergency, contact your primary care provider, via a virtual visit, if possible.
- If it is an emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 911 and inform the call handler or operator that you may have coronavirus (COVID- 19).
- All routine medical and dental appointments should usually be cancelled while you are sick and staying at home. If you are concerned or have been asked to attend in person within the period you are home isolating, discuss this with your primary care provider.
- Wash your hands often
- Cleaning your hands frequently throughout the day by washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer will help protect you and the people you live with. This step is one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of infection to you and to other people.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes
- Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze.
- If you have a caretaker, they should use disposable tissues to wipe away any mucus or phlegm after you have sneezed or coughed. The caretaker should then clean their hands.
- Put tissues into a disposable trash bag and immediately wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitizer.
Facemasks are not recommended as an effective means of preventing the spread of infection. They play an important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals, but there’s very little evidence of benefit from their use outside of these settings. However, if you need to seek medical care, you may be asked to wear a mask to minimize exposing other people.
Do not have visitors in your home
Do not invite or allow social visitors, such as friends and family, to enter your home. If you want to speak to someone who is not a member of your household, use the phone or social media.
If you have pets in the household
At present, there is no evidence that companion animals or pets such as dogs and cats, can be infected with coronavirus (COVID-19).
You should remain at home until 7 days after the onset of your symptoms. After 7 days, if you feel better and no longer have a high temperature, you can return to your normal routine. If you have not had any signs of improvement, contact your primary care provider. Coughing may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean you must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.