Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect

Published: 26 May 2020

Information and support for people who are asked to self-isolate because of COVID-19.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect
Who needs to self isolate?

Who needs to self isolate?

Everyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19, whether or not they have been tested, should self-isolate for 7 days.

People who live in the same household as a person with symptoms should self-isolate for 14 days.

If you have symptoms, contact the NHS to arrange to be tested at 0800 028 2816 or

Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be put in touch with the local contact tracing team so that other close contacts can be identified. These close contacts, as well as household contacts, will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

It will be important that everyone, and especially the people identified as close contacts, remain in self-isolation for the full length of time they are asked to.

A close contact is someone who has been physically close enough to the confirmed case for a long enough period of time, that they may have had the virus transmitted to them.  The risk of the virus being transmitted is higher the closer the contact, the greater the exposure to respiratory droplets (for example from coughing), and the longer the duration of the contact.

If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. This is because if you have the virus, it may take up to 14 days for it to develop into an illness (the “incubation period” of the virus). 

If you have been identified by NHS contact tracers as having been in close contact with a person with a confirmed case, you will not be told who it is you have been in contact with.

If you do not have symptoms yourself and are self-isolating as a close contact of person who is a confirmed case, other people in your own household will not be asked to self-isolate along with you – unless they have also been in close contact with a person who is a confirmed case, which case they will informed by the NHS.


Person A lives with her family and was a close contact of another person who is a confirmed case while at work.  

The partner and children of person A do not need to self-isolate along with her, as long as person A has no symptoms. 

They are able to leave the house in line with physical distancing guidance and regulations that apply to the whole population – they could go out for exercise, or to pick up food or medicine. 

Person A must stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days from her last contact with the confirmed case.