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Self-isolation and support

Advice about staying at home (self-isolation) and support for you and anyone you live with.

What is self-isolation

Self-isolation is when you stay at home because you have or might have COVID-19. This helps stop the virus spreading to other people.

When to self-isolate

You should self-isolate if:

  • you have any symptoms of COVID-19
  • you've tested positive for COVID-19
  • you live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or has tested positive
  • you're told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with a person with COVID-19

How to self-isolate

You must not leave your home if you're self-isolating.

  • do not go to work, school or public places
  • do not go on public transport or use taxis
  • do not go out to get food and medicine
  • do not have visitors in your home, except for people providing essential care
  • do not go out to exercise

You should book a free NHS test to check if you have the virus.

You should also consider telling people you have had close contact with in the last 48 hours that you have symptoms. These people do not have to self-isolate unless they show symptoms, but they should take extra care to follow social distancing advice, including washing their hands often. If they get any COVID-19 symptoms, they must self-isolate and get a test as soon as possible.

How long you should self-isolate for

If you have symptoms or have tested positive for COVID-19, you'll usually need to self-isolate for ten days from when your symptoms started.

You should get tested for COVID-19 if you have not already.

You'll usually need to self-isolate for 14 days if:

  • someone you live with has symptoms or tested positive
  • someone in your support bubble has symptoms or tested positive
  • you've been told by NHS Test and Trace that you've been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 

If you have symptoms, you should stay as far away from other members of your household as possible and follow hand washing and hygiene measures. If you feel that you can’t cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or your symptoms do not get better after seven days, then you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, you can call NHS 111. For a medical emergency, you should dial 999.

You can find more information about self-isolation on the NHS website.

Financial support while you self-isolate

Find out if you are eligible for financial support while you self-isolate.

Getting food and other essential items

If you are self-isolating, you should ask family members, friends or neighbours for help with food, medication and other essential items. You could also order your shopping and request prescriptions online or by telephone.

If neither of these options are possible, then you can request support from Community Connections Lewisham, Advice Lewisham, the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme or mutual aid groups.

NHS Test and Trace

Widespread test and trace capabilities are important as we all start to get back to our daily routines as lockdown measures are slowly lifted. Contact tracing will help ensure that any cases of COVID-19 are identified quickly to support individuals with symptoms and protect the wider community.

The Government has published a useful step-by-step process for test and trace.