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Everything you need to know about Covid-19 self-isolation

People at risk are being urged to self-isolate as the coronavirus increases its grip on the UK.

More and more people will be required to self-isolate in a bid to try and halt the spread of coronavirus in the UK, but many will not be sure how to do so.

Here PA looks at the official advice handed out to help combat the transmission of Covid-19.

– What should I do on day one?

Plan ahead and think about what you are going to need while you are in self-isolation – what food and supplies are you going to need and what medicines will you require? Talk to your employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things you will need.

– Will I be tested if I think I have Covid-19?

The Government has said that it will not be testing people who are self-isolating with mild symptoms.

– Can I go outside to the park or take a taxi?

In short, no. 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.

Coronavirus
Empty shelves (Andrew Milligan/PA)

– What about food shopping or picking up medication?

You will need to ask friends or family if you need help picking buying groceries or picking up medication. Try ordering shopping online, making sure to specify in the delivery notes that you are self-isolating and deliveries should be left outside your home. Delivery drivers should not come into your home. Medication can be ordered by phone or online.

– Can I go in my garden?

If you have a garden, it is fine to use it as long as you keep two metres away from other members of your household. If possible, they should use the outside area separately.

– I live with other people, can I socialise with them?

Try to separate yourself from other people in your home and keep your bedroom door closed. If you cannot stay in a separate room, aim to keep two metres (three steps) away from the other people in your house. You should minimise the time you spend in shared spaces and keep them well ventilated. Make sure everyone follows Government hygiene guidance. Sleep alone, if possible.

Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible.

– I share a bathroom, what should I do?

Use a separate bathroom from the rest of your household if you can. If you do share toilet and bathroom, it is important that you clean them after you have used them every time (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bath, sink and toilet yourself.

Use your own toothbrushes, towels, washcloths and bed linen.

– I share a kitchen, what should I do?

Avoid using the kitchen when others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat.

Do not share food and drinks. Use your own eating and drinking utensils (including cups and glasses in the bathroom and bedroom).

If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery. 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 tea towel.

– I live alone with children, what should I do?

The Government knows that for those living alone with children, it’s not possible to follow every single measure – just follow the advice to the best of your ability.

If a child develops symptoms, they need to stay at home for seven days from the onset of their symptoms.

– Can I dispose of rubbish as usual?

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.

– Can I do laundry as I normally would?

Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items. Make sure not to shake dirty laundry, this minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.

If you do not have a washing machine, wait a further 72 hours after your seven-day isolation period has ended before taking your laundry to a launderette.

– What can I do to help myself get better?

Drink water to keep yourself hydrated – you should drink enough during the day so your urine is a pale clear colour. You can use over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol, to help with some of your symptoms.

– What else should I do?

Cleaning your hands frequently throughout the day by washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser 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 mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze.

If you have a carer, they should use disposable tissues to wipe away any mucus or phlegm after you have sneezed or coughed. The tissues should be put into a disposable rubbish bag and they should then wash their hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser.

– When is it safe to stop self-isolating?

You should remain at home until seven days after the onset of your symptoms. After seven 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 and have not already sought medical advice, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111.

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 seven days.

PA