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Self-isolation and support

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

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 tested positive for COVID-19
  • you have symptoms of COVID-19, while you wait for the results of a PCR test
  • you are told by NHS Test and Trace that you’ve been in contact with a person with COVID-19 and you’re not fully vaccinated (18 years or over).

If you test positive, you are legally required to self-isolate, even if you’ve been fully vaccinated.

You are considered fully vaccinated 14 days after your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination. You must have been fully vaccinated at the time of the contact with the positive case.

You should book a free PCR 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 PCR test as soon as possible.

If you have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, take a look at our guide to self-isolation.

How long you should self-isolate for

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

You should get a PCR test if you have not already.

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.

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.

Citizens Advice Lewisham can help with enquiries about benefits, housing, employment and a range of other issues. They can also help if you are experiencing financial difficulties and can’t afford food or other essentials.

Please call 0800 231 5453 (freephone) for a confidential call back from a Citizens Advice advisor. Their lines are open Monday–Friday, 9.30am–12.30pm and 1.30pm–4pm.

Visit the Citizens Advice Lewisham website.

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 can also request support from Community Connections Lewisham, Advice Lewisham, the NHS Volunteer Responder Scheme or mutual aid groups. 

If you have a prescription you would normally collect, do not go to get it while you are self-isolating.

Get help accessing food and essentials, including prescriptions.

Housing support

Find out what housing support you can get if you are having trouble due to COVID-19.

Find out what support is available to help you with housing costs.

Health and wellbeing

Self-isolation can be very challenging, especially if you are living with an existing condition or support need.

If you are worried about your health or just feeling alone Community Connections Lewisham can help. They can help you in various ways, for example, stop smoking support, access to IT and befriending groups.

Call Community Connections Lewisham on 0330 058 3464 to speak to an advisor about your health and wellbeing. Their lines are open 9.30am–4pm, Monday–Friday.

Find out more about looking after your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.


If you are a carer for someone who does not live in the same household, please do not continue to provide support. You must self-isolate and use your emergency/contingency plan for this situation. If you do not have an emergency/contingency plan, please think about any friends or family who can pick up your caring duties for all or some of your isolation period.

If the person you provide care for has urgent care needs you must contact Lewisham Adult Social Care on:

  • 020 8314 7777 Monday–Friday, 9am -5pm
  • 0208 314 6000 at any other time.

Carers can get the COVID-19 vaccine. Read more about getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

Parents and carers

Find COVID-19 information and advice for parents and carers.

NHS Test and Trace

Widespread test and trace capabilities remain 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.

Read a useful step-by-step process guide for test and trace on the Government's website.