Self-isolation is when we do not leave our home because we have or might have coronavirus (COVID-19). It helps stop us spreading the virus to other people.
We are all legally required to self-isolate for 10 days if we test positive got coronavirus or are told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. We could be fined up to £10,000 if we do not self-isolate.
Self-isolation is different to:
- social distancing – general advice for everyone to avoid close contact with other people
- shielding – advice for people at high risk from coronavirus
Below are 10 tips on how to self-isolate for 10 days.
Health and care services remain open to help people with all health conditions, including COVID-19.
The majority of people experience relatively mild symptoms that can be dealt with at home with rest and over the counter medicines.
If you do want to speak to a health professional about symptoms you are concerned about but it is not an emergency, contact the NHS 111 online COVID-19 service. If you have no internet access, phone by dialing 111. You can also contact your own local GP service.
Seek prompt medical attention if your illness or the illness of someone in your household is worsening. If it is a medical emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999.
- NHS - helpful guide for treating the main symptoms of Coronavirus.
- If you think you need to visit an urgent care centre, hospital or GP, the local NHS are advising people to call NHS 111 before visiting hospital or urgent care centres.
Plan meals for 10 days
If possible, have a small stock of tins, jars and dried food that could be used to make an easy meal if you were unable to get to the shops or had to wait for an online delivery.
- Can you register for online food shopping? You may need to use a different shop than you normally go to if the delivery slots are busy with your regular supermarket. Don’t forget your local shops may also be willing to deliver if you give them a call. Lots of local businesses have adapted their service and are happy to drop off on the doorstep.
- Ask friends or family to drop off anything you need or order supplies online or by phone, making sure these are left outside your home for you to collect. Most major supermarkets offer ‘click and collect’ slots where you can order and pay online and arrange a time slot for your family or friends to pick up – often quicker than waiting for a delivery slot.
- If you are struggling to get food, please ask for help. If you can’t get a delivery or don’t have anyone to ask to drop off essential food items, please call our emergency support number on 0345 140 0845 Monday – Friday 8.30am – 5.30pm or weekends 10am – 2pm or visit our Contact Pages.
- The NHS Change4Life website has lots of good health advice for all the family including child friendly recipes for meals and snacks.
- Making use of what you have in the cupboards will help you stretch supplies and you can check out Love Food Hate Waste which has lots of inspiration for using leftovers and what you might already have in the fridge and cupboards.
- There are also lots of good food ideas on the BBC Food website including lots of budget recipes.
The majority of people who experience Covid-19 symptoms are able to manage at home with over the counter medicines e.g. paracetamol, plenty of rest, fluids and good general self-care.
- Have a simple and cheap first aid kit - the NHS has a helpful guide as to the items we should all keep in our medicine cabinet. Most of these items can be bought very cheaply at supermarkets, pharmacies and lots of discount stores. Always store medicine in a safe and secure place, away from children and pets.
- Prescription medicines - your local pharmacy should be able to help with delivery of any medications that you need if you are unable to leave the house.
- If you or someone you know is struggling with getting their prescriptions or other medicines, you can contact 0345 140 0845, Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 5.30pm or weekends 10am – 2pm or visit our Contact the Council pages.
If you normally care for others such as older relatives or other members of family or friends, you should not continue to do this while you are in self isolation.
If the person being cared for is not a positive case or a contact of a positive case, you need to ask someone you trust to take over.
- If people you would normally care for are vulnerable and are being shielded, we have a list of local organisations who can offer support.
To find out more, visit our Support Offer page or contact our emergency support number - 0345 140 0845, Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 5.30pm or weekends 10am – 2pm.
- If you think someone is struggling and potentially needs extra care to help them stay well and safe in their own home, to request support, visit our Support Offer page or contact our Customer Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845.
£500 Test and Trace Support payment
If you are on certain benefits or low income, you may be entitled to a Test and Trace Support payment of £500.
If you have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate, either because you have tested positive for Coronavirus Covid-19 or you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you may be entitled to some financial support during your self-isolation period.
If you are worried about paying your bills due to loss of income due to Coronavirus, you can find out about help that may be available:
- through the Government’s Coronavrius advice service
- via Sefton Council's ‘support for individuals’
- the Money Advice Service is a free and impartial service set up by the Government with lots of useful information and advice including help with debt, budgeting and lots more. You can also talk to an adviser by phone and online.
- If you are struggling to get or pay for food and essential items, please contact our emergency support service on 0345 140 0845, Monday - Friday, 8.30am - 5.30pm or weekends 10am - 2pm.
- For extreme hardship, the Council has a discretionary support scheme.
You can find out more about it here.
If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax, you can contact 0345 140 0845, Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 5.30pm or weekends 10am – 2pm, or find out about our Council Tax Hardship Fund here.
Staying at home and self-isolating for a long period can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some.
There are lots of things you can do that can help you to feel a bit better and help you cope with a period of self-isolation.
Try and be kind to yourself. These are tough times that are testing us all so find something that works for you and your family to help you get through.
- Take the NHS mind plan quiz – answer 5 short questions and get a personalised plan to help you deal with stress and anxiety, boost your mood and feel more in control.
- Have a read of the NHS guide to Coronavirus and mental health.
- Ask for help if you need it. We are in very difficult times and even if you have never asked for help before, don’t be afraid to ask for help or support.
You can find a quick guide to local support services here.
- Children and young people can be particularly affected by not seeing their friends or being able to go to school.
The Government has published a helpful guide for parents and carers of children and young people, which has a range of resources including how to talk to children about the Coronavirus pandemic.
- If you or someone you know has been bereaved recently or you are facing other serious mental health challenges, please do find a local service to support you. No-one should have to face these things alone and even if you do have family and friends around, it can sometimes be difficult to talk to them and maybe easier to speak to a professional or someone else you can trust.
You can find a full list of MerseyCare services here.
- If you need help with mental health right now, you can call the free 24/7 mental Health Crisis Line on 0800 051 1508.
- In crisis and need support, sometimes it’s easier to text than talk. Text SHOUT to 85258 for free, confidential support.
If you’re self-isolating, it can be even more difficult to look after your physical health and focus on fitness.
If you are feeling unwell, you should be resting and looking after yourself as much as possible. The NHS has an excellent guide for treating symptoms of Coronavirus.
If you don’t have symptoms or are feeling better, there are some things you can do to support your physical health during a period of self-isolation.
- Trying to get plenty of sleep. This is very important and helps our bodies to cope with illness. Have a look at the NHS website for a guide to sleeping well and tiredness.
- Active Sefton has lots of ideas and free ways to stay active at home during self isolation or lockdown periods.
- The NHS also has free fitness instructor videos with a range of workouts suitable for all abilities and to support certain conditions or challenges that you can do at home or in the garden if you have one.
It is not inevitable that other members of your family will catch Coronavirus even if they live in the same house.
There are lots of actions you can take to minimise the risk including:
- Trying to use a separate room and bathroom to the other members of your family if you can. Having a bathroom rota can be helpful with priority for any elderly or vulnerable family members.
- Avoiding using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat. Observe strict social distancing.
- If a separate bathroom is not available, cleaning after use, particularly taps and toilet flush buttons/levers.
- Using separate towels from other family members.
- Getting fresh air into rooms regularly.
- Using a face mask if you can’t avoid spending time in shared areas inside your home to minimise the risk of spread to others. It might seem extreme to wear a mask indoors but it can help if someone in the family is positive for Coronavirus.
In addition to your normal cleaning routine, here are some extra things to think about if someone in the family has Covid-19 symptoms or has tested positive.
- Regularly cleaning frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and remote controls, and shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Many cleaning and disinfectant products available in most supermarkets are effective at killing the Coronavirus on surfaces.
- Cleaning shared bathrooms each time they are used, especially the surfaces you have touched, using your usual bathroom cleaning products.
- Storing cleaning cloths and personal waste such as used tissues and disposable face coverings in disposable rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in your usual external household waste bin. Other household waste can be disposed of as normal.
- Using a dishwasher to clean and dry your crockery and cutlery if possible. If not, wash them by hand using standard washing up liquid. Dry dishes thoroughly using a separate clean tea towel.
- Reducing the possibility of spreading the virus through the air, by not shaking dirty laundry. Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. All dirty laundry can be washed in the same load. If you do not have a washing machine, wait a further 72 hours after your self-isolation has ended when you can then take the laundry to a public launderette.
- Avoiding sharing games consoles and other equipment.
- Not sharing towels, including hand towels and tea towels.
- Trying to get some fresh air circulating in your home as much as possible even though it might be chilly outside. This is important as it can help to reduce the risk of Coronavirus spreading.
- Making sure that any vents are open and airflow is not blocked.
- Leaving extractor fans (for example in bathrooms) running for longer than usual with the door closed after use.
If you are self-isolating, you should not leave your house to walk dogs or other pets that require exercise.
You can ask someone else to walk your pet but advise them that you are self isolating and ask that they bring their own lead/bags etc.
Pet owners who have COVID-19 or who are self-isolating with symptoms should restrict contact with pets and wash their hands thoroughly before and after interacting with their pet. This is because, like other surfaces, the Coronavirus may survive on your pet’s fur for a short time. It is unlikely that you pet will become ill due to Covid-19.
The PDSA has an excellent guide for pet owners covering a wide range of things to consider if you have pets and need to self-isolate.
You should not visit the vet with your pet while you are self-isolating. If your pet needs care urgently, contact your vet to discuss safe ways that treatment can take place.