Here's what 'self-isolating' means, and what to do if there's a chance you could have coronavirus

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 10:32 am
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 10:32 am

"If there's a chance you could have coronavirus, call 111 and isolate yourself from other people," say the NHS.

But what does that mean?

Quarantine and isolation is a way of restricting the movement of people who may have been exposed to an infectious disease in an effort to prevent the spread.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Those placed under quarantine or isolation may not have a confirmed medical diagnosis, but could pose a risk of spreading a virus due to exposure.

Here's everything you need to know about it:

Who needs to self-isolate?

Anybody who feels there is a chance that they could have contracted coronavirus needs to self-isolate, before calling 111 for advice.

But there are certain groups of people who are more at risk than others. You should self-isolate if you have travelled to any of the following places:

CambodiaChinaHong KongIranItalyJapanLaosMacauMalaysiaMyanmar (Burma)SingaporeSouth KoreaTaiwanTenerife – only the H10 Costa Adeje Palace HotelThailandVietnam

How do I self-isolate?

The best place to self-isolate yourself is obviously your own home, where you should stay for the duration of your quarantine.

This means you shouldn't go to work, school or public areas, and not use any public transport or taxis.

If you need something from outside your home, you can ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you.

You should try not to be in the same room as other people at the same time, and only allow people who live with you to stay.

For comfort, you’ll want to stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened, but make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online.

Clean toilets and bathrooms regularly, and think about a bathroom rota if a separate bathroom is not available, with the isolated person using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves.

You should use separate towels from anyone else in the household, and wash crockery and utensils thoroughly with soap and water; dishwashers may be used to clean crockery and cutlery.

Finally, stay away from your pets – if unavoidable, wash your hands before and after contact.

What if I'm not at home?

Of course, it's possible that any coronavirus symptoms could arise while you're out and about.

If this is the case, the official advice insists that you do not go to a GP surgery or hospital, as that could spread the virus inordinately.

Instead, you should try to find a room to isolate yourself away from others. Ask for help if you need to, but try to stay at least two metres away from other people.

Open a window for ventilation if you can, but otherwise touch objects and surfaces as little as possible, and call 111 for advice.

If you find yourself on public transport and become unwell, you should go back to your home or place of residence immediately.

How long should I self-isolate for?

You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explaining they usually cause “mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses”, like the common cold.

This particular strain originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, the largest city in central China, and is in the same family as SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

a cougha high temperatureshortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.