COVID-19 infection is confirmed by a PCR test.
If you have a positive PCR test, you should isolate at home to stop the virus spreading.
You should also let your
close contacts know that you have had a positive test. It's a good idea for them to do LFTs for the next 10 days to check if the virus has spread to them.
When to leave isolation
After a positive PCR test, you should plan to isolate for 10 days after your PCR test was taken or after you had a positive LFT.
After five days isolating, you can begin to take LFT tests. Once you have two negative LFTs in a row 24 hours apart, this is a good sign that you are no longer infectious and can return to your normal activity, as long as you do not have a temperature and feel well enough.
After 10 days isolating, you can return to your normal activity if you do not have a temperature and feel well enough.
After 10 days, if you still have a temperature or feel unwell, you should contact your GP.
How to isolate
While you are isolating, you should stay at home as much as possible. You shouldn't:
- visit shops
- go to work or school
- visit any indoor places such as pubs and restaurants or other people's homes
- use public transport or taxis
- let anyone who does not live with you into your home unless they are providing essential care or medical help or in the case of an emergency (this may include emergency repairs). You should tell anyone entering your property that you are isolating. If you need to have face to face contact, it is important you maintain physical distancing and wear a mask
You should try to limit your time outdoors as much as possible but to help support your wellbeing it's OK to go out to get some fresh air and exercise. This should be in an outdoor public space such as a beach, a park, outdoor lanes etc.
While outside, you should not go anywhere that is crowded including shopping areas or any other places where people congregate. Avoid busy times of the day and do not meet up with anyone from outside your household.
Anyone under the age of 16 should be accompanied by a responsible adult from within the household.
When going outside, you should:
- avoid touching communal door handles and surfaces and keep windows open for ventilation if you live in a block of flats or other accommodation, where you share communal areas with other residents
- remain outside and avoid enclosed or crowded spaces
- try to stay at least 2m away from other people
- wear a mask when contact with other people cannot be avoided and if you have symptoms
- always try to avoid being out during busy times
- if walking your dog, keep it on a lead to avoid approaching other people and increasing interaction with other people
- if you are isolating in hotel accommodation, arrange with them to provide you with safe entry and exit points
To keep yourself safe, take your mobile phone with you in case you become unwell.
You should not:
- use public transport
- enter any indoor premises
- purchase any items, including food and drink, even at takeaway or outside venues (so take food and drink with you)
- spectate sporting or any other events
- travel to another country
It is strongly recommended that you isolate separately from others in your household to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Isolating in a separate part of the house means:
- be staying in a separate room to other members of the household at all times including sleeping in a different room
- not sharing bathrooms or kitchen space at the same time. Use a rota, clean touch points between uses and ensure there is good ventilation
- not having contact with any visitors to the house including, for example, cleaners, workman or child minders
Book a PCR test if you have symptoms
If it is an emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the operator that you are in isolation.
All routine and non-essential medical and dental appointments should be cancelled whilst you are isolating. Telephone and video calls with GPs can take place during this time. If you are concerned or have been asked to attend in person within the period you are isolating, discuss this with your medical contact first.
If you have to isolate and don't have access to help and support through family or friends, you can call the coronavirus helpline who will be able to support you through the Connect Me service.
If you are unable to work because you are unwell and isolating after a positive test, you may be able to claim
Short Term Incapacity Benefit.