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Testing positive for COVID-19

There is no longer a legal requirement for people with coronavirus (COVID-19) infection to self-isolate, however if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or have returned a positive LFT, the advice is to stay at home.

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 you should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until 48 hours after symptoms have subsided and you feel better, just like you would with any other respiratory infection, like a cold or flu.

If you have a positive COVID-19 test result, even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still pass on the infection to others. In this case, try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until you have a negative LFD test result or until five days after your first positive result.

You should also follow guidance to avoid specific settings (e.g. health or care settings) if requested to do so and consider testing if you are visiting vulnerable friends and relatives.

What to do if you have COVID-19

You are encouraged to report your positive LFD result online. This is for Public Health surveillance purposes only. There is no need to report any negative results.

There are additional anti-viral treatment options for selected groups of people with coronavirus who are thought to be at greater risk.

The most effective way to avoid passing on any respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

You are encouraged to

  • Stay at home and away from sensitive locations (e.g. clinical settings) until 48 hours after your main symptoms have stopped

  • Stay warm and take any normal flu and cold medication – you can also read the useful self-management advice for managing symptoms at home

  • Try to work from home if you can and if well enough – if unable to, talk to your employer about other options available

  • Ask friends, family, neighbours or volunteers to get food and other essentials for you

  • Not invite social visitors into your home, including friends and family

  • Postpone all non-essential services and repairs that require a home visit

  • Cancel routine medical and dental appointments - if you are concerned about your health or you have been asked to attend an appointment in person during this time, discuss this with your medical contact and let them know about your symptoms or your test result

  • If you can, let people who you have been in close contact with know about your positive test result so that they can be vigilant for symptoms and make their own personal informed choices

While you are infectious there is a high risk of passing on COVID-19 to others in your household. These are simple things you can do to help prevent the spread:

  • Keep your distance from other people you live with and spend as little time as possible in shared areas such as kitchens and living rooms

  • If you need to spend time in shared areas wear a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask

  • Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze - dispose of tissues into a rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitiser

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose and before you eat or handle food

  • If you can, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household - if this is not possible try and use the bathroom after everyone else and

  • Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and remote controls, and shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms

Leaving the house when positive

If you test positive for COVID-19, you are strongly advised to stay at home and away from others until 48 hours after your main symptoms have stopped. If you do need to leave your home while you are still symptomatic, you should take the following steps to reduce the chance of passing on the infection to others:

  • Wear a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask

  • Avoid close contact with anyone you know who is at higher risk of becoming severely unwell if they are infected with COVID-19

  • Avoid crowded places - if you need to take public transport, avoid busy times, for example by using off peak services

  • Avoid large social gatherings and events, or anywhere that is poorly ventilated, crowded, or enclosed

  • Limit close contact with other people outside your household as much as possible and

  • Be especially careful with your hand and respiratory hygiene

Advice for close contacts

If you live with, or have stayed overnight in the household of, someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you are advised to:

  • Minimise contact with the person who has COVID-19

  • Pay close attention to the main symptoms of COVID-19 and self-test if any develop

  • Speak to your employer as each business is different and will have their own unique policy

  • Avoid contact with anyone you know who is at higher risk of becoming severely unwell if they are infected with COVID-19, especially those with a severely weakened immune system

  • Think about your contact with other people outside your household, especially in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces

  • Wear a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces and where you are in close contact with other people

Children and young people who usually attend an education or childcare setting and who live with someone who has COVID-19 should continue to attend the setting as normal.

If you are a contact of someone with COVID-19 but do not live with them or did not stay in their household overnight, you are at lower risk of becoming infected and should continue to follow general guidance on how to stay safe and prevent the spread.