The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:
- a high temperature - you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- a new, continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness.
However, if you have any of the symptoms above you must stay at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19.
Stay at home is you have a possible of confirmed coronavirus infection
What do we mean by possible or confirmed coronavirus infection (COVID-19)?
- Possible infection is where a person has coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and is currently awaiting a test result.
- Confirmed infection is where a person has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
Consider alerting the people that you have had close contact with in the last 48 hours to let them know you have symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19. At this stage, those people should not self-isolate. Alerting those that you have been in contact with means they can take extra care in practising social distancing and good hand and respiratory hygiene. They can also be more alert to any symptoms they might develop.
Following a positive test result, you will receive a request by text, email or phone to log into the NHS Test and Trace service website and provide information about recent close contacts.
People who have tested positive will receive a text, email or phone call requesting that they log into the NHS Test and Trace website to create a confidential account where they can record details about their recent close contacts. If you do not have access to the web, then you will be phoned by a contact tracer working for the NHS Test and Trace service. The information you provide will be handled in strict confidence and will enable the NHS Test and Trace service to contact those people and provide them with advice on whether they should go into self-isolation. This will help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The people contacted will not be told your identity, but by alerting them when you first develop symptoms, you can help make sure that they are prepared for being contacted by the Test and Trace service.
How long to stay at home
If you have symptoms:
- you end self isolation after 7 days (from when you became ill) as long as you feel better and do not have a high temperature.
- If you still have a high temperature, keep self isolating until your temperature is normal. Contact NHS111 online or call NHS111 if you continue to feel unwell after 7 days. For a medical emergency dial 999.
- If you still have a cough or loss of sense of smell/taste after 7 days you can end self isolation as these symptoms can last several weeks once the infection is gone.
- Staying at home will help prevent the spread of the virus to family, friends, the wider community, and particularly those who are clinically extremely vulnerable. Controlling the spread of the virus will help us to protect the NHS and save lives.
- If you live with other people, and they remain well they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms
- If anyone in your home also gets symptoms, they should stay at home for 7 days from the day their symptoms start. If they feel well after this 7 day period they can end their self-isolation
- If a household member develops symptoms late in the 14 day isolation period they must self isolate for a further 7 days. However, for the rest of the household it is not necessary to restart their isolation period.
- Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.
If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days.
If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
Read the NHS advice about staying at home.
Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
You do not need to contact 111 to tell them you're staying at home.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:
you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
your condition gets worse
- your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
Only call 111 if you cannot get help online. For a medical emergency dial 999.
If you or someone in your household does not have possible symptoms of coronavirus then you should be following the staying alert and safe
Can I (or someone in my household) be tested for coronavirus?
Testing is a key pillar of the Government's strategy to protect the NHS and save lives. The testing capacity has been expanded to include anyone with symptoms (in England).
How to self-isolate if you need to
Self-isolating at home will help protect others in your community whilst you are infectious.
This means you should:
- stay at home
- not go to work, school or public places (not even to get food/medicine)
- not use public transport or taxis
- plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home. Ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you
- any exercise must be taken within your home
- stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible, particularly older people or those with long-term health conditions
- regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
cover your coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues. Dispose of tissues into a disposable rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser
consider using a face covering inside your home when spending time in shared parts of the household
Read more coronavirus self-isolation advice.
Advice about how to to keep good mental wellbeing while spending long periods at home.
Avoid contact with others in your household, as much as possible
- you should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window to the outside that can be opened, separate from other people in your home if this is possible. Keep the door closed
- sleep alone, if that is possible
- use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household, if available. If you have to share these facilities, regular cleaning will be required. Draw up a bathroom rota, and you should use the facilities last
- you should avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens whilst others are present. Take your meals back to your room to eat. Use a dishwasher (if available), if this is not possible, wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate tea towel
If you have a clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable person living with you
Where possible, arrange for anyone who is clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable to move out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of your home isolation period.
If you cannot arrange for vulnerable people to move out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible, following the guidance here.
How to get help getting food/medicines?
From Tuesday 24 March, Richmond Council (LBRuT) are launching a new helpline as a first response for residents, particularly those elderly and/or vulnerable without support networks, who need support to access medical/care services and food supplies. This is to help those most in need stay safe and well while they self-isolate at home.
0208 871 6555 or
Diagram of stay at home guidance
How long do I have to self-isolate if a second person in your household gets symptoms? Find out in the helpful diagram for download below.