15 march 2021
This guidance is correct at the time of publishing. However as it is subject to changes, please ensure that the information at time of issue is accurate and correct.
- Who this guidance is for
- Tests for COVID-19
- Main messages
- If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have received a positive COVID-19 test result
- If you have a negative COVID-19 test result after being tested because you had symptoms
- If you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19
- Visitors to the household
- How COVID-19 is spread
- Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in your household
- Looking after your health and wellbeing
- Financial or other practical support
Who this guidance is for
It is important that we all take steps to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the community to save lives and protect those most vulnerable.
This guidance is for:
- people with symptoms that may be caused by COVID-19, including those who are waiting for a test
- people who have received a positive COVID-19 test result (whether or not they have symptoms)
- people who currently live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 symptoms, or with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
In this guidance a household means:
- one person living alone
- a group of people (who may or may not be related) living at the same address and who share cooking facilities, bathrooms or toilets and/or living areas. This may include students in boarding schools who share such facilities
Follow separate guidance if you have had contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 but do not currently live in the same household as them.
The most important symptoms of COVID-19 are recent onset of any of the following:
- a temperature of more than 37.8C (100F)
- OR, a new and persistent 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)
- OR, anosmia – this is the loss of or a change in your normal sense of smell. It can also affect your sense of taste as the two are closely linked
- OR, a new shortness of breath
If you develop any of the above symptoms, please complete the Isle of Man COVID-19 Screening Assessment.
Completion of this assessment will determine whether a further telephone assessment needs to be undertaken by calling the Isle of Man COVID-111 service or if no further action is required.
If you have symptoms and they worsen during self-isolation or are no better after 14 days, contact your GP/ MEDS. For a medical emergency dial 999.
Tests for COVID-19
There are 2 main types of test currently being used to detect if someone has COVID-19:
- Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests
- Lateral Flow Device antigen (LFD) tests
PCR tests detect the RNA (ribonucleic acid, the genetic material) of a virus. PCR tests are the most reliable COVID-19 tests. It takes some time to get the results because they are usually processed in a laboratory. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should arrange to have a PCR test.
LFD tests detect proteins in the coronavirus and work in a similar way to a pregnancy test. They are simple and quick to use. LFD tests are not as accurate as PCR tests in all circumstances, but can detect a similar number of people with high levels of coronavirus as PCR tests. They are mainly used in people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. They are not routinely used in the Isle of Man.
See: Testing and results
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms or a positive test result should stay at home and self-isolate immediately. This is because you could pass the infection on to others, even if you don’t have symptoms.
You could be fined or have up to 3 months in custody if you do not stay at home once notified by the COVID Response Team (contact tracing) that you need to self-isolate as per your Direction Notice. It may be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others in their household. Not all these measures will be possible if you are living with children or have caring responsibilities but follow this guidance to the best of your ability in these circumstances.
If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have received a positive COVID-19 test result
Stay at home and self-isolate
If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home and self-isolate immediately. If you have a positive test result but do not have symptoms, stay at home and self-isolate as soon as you receive the results. Your household needs to isolate too.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, complete the online assessment and contact COVID 111 as required, follow their advice.
Stay at home while you are waiting for your test result. Do not go to work, school, or public areas and do not use public transport or taxis. See self-isolation for more details. If you need to leave your home to get to a test site, observe strict social distancing advice and return immediately afterwards. If you need to get a taxi to your test appointment, make sure you inform the driver that you are self-isolating.
If you are notified by contact tracing of a positive test result you must stay at home and complete your full isolation period. A Direction Notice will be emailed to you detailing your legal requirement to isolate.
Your isolation period starts immediately from, and includes, the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you do not have symptoms), and the next 21 days, leaving isolation at 12noon on day 21. This means that if, for example, your symptoms started at any time on the 5th of the month (or if you did not have symptoms but your first positive COVID-19 test was taken on the 5th), your isolation period ends at 12noon on the 26th. There is an option to have a COVID-19 test on day 13 and if negative you can leave isolation on day 14 at 12noon. In the example above starting isolation on the 5th of the month, day 13 would be the 18th leaving isolation on the 19th at 12 noon with a negative test.
You can return to your normal routine and stop self-isolating after your period of isolation if your symptoms have gone, or if the only symptoms you have are a cough or anosmia, which can last for several weeks. Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild illness. If you cannot cope with your symptoms at home or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms are no better after 14 days, contact your GP/ MEDS. For a medical emergency dial 999.
If you develop COVID-19 symptoms at any point after ending your first period of isolation (self or household) then you and your household should follow the steps in this guidance again.
Stay as far away from other members of your household as possible, especially if they are clinically extremely vulnerable. Wherever possible, avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat. Wear a face covering or a surgical mask when spending time in shared areas inside your home.
Take exercise within your home, garden or private outdoor space. Follow the general advice to reduce the spread of the infection within your household.
If you have a negative COVID-19 test result after being tested because you had symptoms
If your test result is negative but you still have symptoms, you may have another virus such as a cold or flu. You should stay at home until you feel well. Seek medical attention if you are concerned about your symptoms.
You can stop isolating as long as:
- you are well
- no-one else in your household has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19
- you have not been advised to self-isolate by contact tracing
Anyone in your household who is isolating because of your symptoms can also stop isolating.
Testing after your isolation period has ended
If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will probably have developed some immunity to the disease. However, it cannot be guaranteed that everyone will develop immunity, or how long it will last. It is possible for tests to remain positive for some time after COVID-19 infection.
If you develop symptoms again contact 111.
If you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19
Stay at home and self-isolate. Do not go to work, school, or public areas and do not use public transport or taxis.
Your isolation period includes the day the first person in your household developed symptoms (or the day their test was taken if they did not have symptoms) and the next 21 days or longer if a further household member tests positive, refer to the chart.
There is an option for household high risk contacts to have COVID-19 tests and if negative they can leave isolation earlier on day 14. This option will be explained to the high risk contact by contact tracing and is usually a test on (or as close to) day one of isolation; day 6/or7 of isolation; and then on day 13 of isolation. If the household member who had tested positive for COVID-19 and ALL household high risk contacts are negative on day 13 then everyone can leave isolation on day 14 at 12noon.
If the household member who had tested positive for COVID-19, re-tests positive on day 13:
- their isolation is extended for 7 days
- ALL of the household contacts will have their isolation reset and extended for a further 21 days, refer to the chart below.
If any of the household contacts test positive for COVID-19 on day 1, day 6/or 7, or on day 13:
- Their isolation is reset and extended for 21 days. They can leave isolation at 12noon on day 21, or if they choose to have a test on day 13, if this is negative they can leave isolation at 12noon on day 14.
- All of the other household contacts will have their isolation reset and extended for a further 21 days. All household contacts, who haven’t tested positive for COVID-19, have the option to have COVID-19 tests on (or around) day 1, day 6/or 7, and on day 13. If ALL tests are negative then all remaining household contacts can leave isolation on day 14 at 12noon. If anyone is positive, isolation will be reset and extended again, refer to the chart below.
- If the initial person who tested positive for COVID-19 now tests negative on day 13 then they are able to leave isolation on day 14 at 12noon. This applies, even if one of the household contacts tests positive in the household, refer to the chart below.
If you have a negative test result during your isolation period, for example on day 1 or day 6/or7, you must continue to self-isolate. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you could still pass the infection on to others. Stay at home for your isolation period to avoid putting others at risk.
If you develop symptoms while you are isolating, contact COVID 111, follow their advice. If you have a test and the result is positive, follow the advice for people with COVID-19 to stay at home and start a further 21 days isolation period. This begins when your symptoms started, regardless of where you are in your original isolation period. This means that your total isolation period will be longer.
If other household members develop symptoms during this period, they need to contact 111 to arrange to have a test.
- If the result is positive, then all household members who are contacts will have their isolation period reset and extended; household members who have tested positive for COVID-19 complete their isolation as per their Direction Notice, refer to the chart above.
- If the result is negative, then all household members remain on their scheduled isolation period.
Failure to comply with self-isolation may result in custody or a fine. Parents or guardians are legally responsible for ensuring that anyone under 18 self-isolates if they test positive for COVID-19 and are contacted by contact tracing and told to self-isolate.
Visitors to the household
Do not invite or allow social visitors to enter your home, including friends and family. If you want to speak to someone who is not a member of your household, use the phone, email or social media.
If you or a family member receive essential care in your home, carers should continue to visit and follow the provision of home care guidance to reduce the risk of infection.
All non-essential in-house services and repairs should be postponed until the self-isolation period is completed.
How COVID-19 is spread
COVID-19 spreads from person to person through small droplets, aerosols and through direct contact. Surfaces and belongings can also be contaminated with COVID-19 when people with the infection cough or sneeze or touch them. The risk of spread is greatest when people are close to each other, especially in poorly ventilated indoor spaces and when people spend a lot of time together in the same room.
Social distancing, washing your hands and good respiratory hygiene (using and disposing of tissues), cleaning surfaces and keeping indoor spaces well ventilated are the most important ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
People who have COVID-19 can infect others from around 2 days before symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after. They can pass the infection to others, even if they have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, which is why they must stay at home.
People who live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 are at higher risk of developing COVID-19. They could spread the disease to others even when feeling well, which is why they must stay at home.
How to limit close contact with others in the household if you have COVID-19
Spend as little time as possible in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas. Avoid 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.
Ask the people you live with to help by bringing your meals to your door, helping with cleaning and by giving you space.
Use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household where possible. If a separate bathroom is not available, try and use the facilities last, before cleaning the bathroom using your usual cleaning products. The bathroom should be cleaned regularly.
You should use separate towels from other household members, both for drying yourself after bathing or showering and for drying your hands. Keep your room well-ventilated by opening a window to the outside.
Use a face covering or a surgical mask when spending time in shared areas inside your home to minimise the risk of spread to others. Used correctly, they may help to protect others by reducing the transmission of COVID-19 but they do not replace the need to limit your contact with other household members.
You can find more advice on reducing the risks from COVID-19 in your home at GermDefence.
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should be supported to minimise their contact with other people in the household during this period, regardless of whether others have symptoms or not.
Reducing the spread of COVID-19 in your household
Everyone should take the following steps to reduce the spread of infection within their household.
Wash your hands
This is an important way to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19 or passing it on to others. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose and before you eat or handle food. Clean your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
Cover coughs and sneezes
Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze. If you do not have one to hand, cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand.
Dispose of tissues into a rubbish bag and immediately wash your hands with soap and water or use a hand sanitiser. If you have a carer, they should use disposable tissues to wipe away any mucus or phlegm after you have sneezed or coughed and then wash or sanitise their hands.
Clean your home to reduce spread of infection
Regularly clean frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and remote controls, and shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. This is particularly important if you have a clinically extremely vulnerable person in the house.
Use standard household cleaning products like detergents and bleach to clean your home as these are very effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces. Clean shared bathrooms each time they are used, especially the surfaces you have touched, using your usual bathroom cleaning products.
Cleaning cloths and personal waste such as used tissues and disposable face coverings should be stored 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.
Use a dishwasher to clean and dry your crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them by hand using washing up liquid and warm water and dry thoroughly using a separate tea towel.
To reduce the possibility of spreading the virus through the air, do not shake dirty laundry.
Wash items as appropriate 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.
Do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels.
Ventilate indoor areas
Keep indoor areas well-ventilated with fresh air, especially shared living areas. To increase the flow of air you can:
- open windows as much as possible
- open doors
- make sure that any vents are open and airflow is not blocked
- leave extractor fans (for example in bathrooms) running for longer than usual with the door closed after use
Caring for pets
COVID-19 in the UK is spread between humans. There is limited evidence that some animals, including pets, can become infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) following close contact with infected humans.
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.
Looking after your health and wellbeing
Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing while staying at home
We know that staying at home and self-isolating for a prolonged period can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people and that you or other household members may feel low. It can be particularly challenging if you do not have much space or access to a garden.
It’s important to remember to take care of your mind as well as your body and get support if you need it. Stay in touch with family and friends over the phone or on social media. There are many sources of support and information, such as guidance on looking after your mental health and wellbeing and on supporting children and young people.
Every Mind Matters provides simple tips and advice to take better care of your mental health, including a COVID-19 hub with advice for those staying at home. Are you ok? is a local resource with a range of support and contacts for Isle of Man residents.
Many people find it helpful to remind themselves why what they are doing is so important. By staying at home, you are helping to protect your friends and family, and reducing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the community to save lives and protect those most vulnerable. Think about things you can do to help make staying at home easier:
- make sure that you keep in touch with friends and family over the phone or through social media
- when you are feeling better, remember that physical exercise can be good for your wellbeing. Look for online classes or courses that can help you take light exercise in your home
- plan ahead and think about what you will need in order to be able to stay at home for the full duration
- ask your employer, friends and family for help to access the things you will need while staying at home
- think about and plan how you can get food and other supplies such as medications that you will need during this period
- check if your neighbourhood or local community has a volunteer system that could help bring you supplies or provide other support
- 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
- think about things you can do during your time at home such as cooking, reading, online learning and watching films
- many people find it helpful to plan out the full isolation period. You may also find it helpful to plan in advance what you will do if, for example, someone in your household were to feel much worse, such as have difficulties breathing
If you need help for a mental health crisis, emergency or breakdown, seek immediate advice and assessment. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, urgent mental health support is available to adults and children around the clock. The Crisis Response and Home Treatment Team is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for those needing urgent support.
If you need medical advice
Health and care services remain open to help people with all health conditions, including COVID-19. Most people with COVID-19 will experience a mild illness which can be managed at home by using over-the-counter medicines and getting plenty of rest.
All routine medical and dental appointments should usually be cancelled whilst you and the family are staying at home. If you are concerned or have been asked to attend in person within the period you are home isolating, discuss this with your medical contact first (for example, your GP or dentist, local hospital or outpatient service), using the number they have provided.
Seek prompt medical attention if your illness or the illness of someone in your household is worsening. If it is not an emergency, call your GP/MEDS. If it is a medical emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the call handler or operator that you or someone in your household has COVID-19 or symptoms if that is the case.
Financial or other practical support
Self-isolation is one of the most important things we can do to help stop the spread of the virus and protect our friends and family, our community and those most vulnerable. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, have received a positive test result, or have been told you are a contact with someone who has, self-isolation is the only way to guarantee you won’t pass COVID-19 to others. If you are told to isolate, you should do so straight away. Support is available if you’re affected by coronavirus.
Ask your employer, friends or relatives for help to access the things you will need while staying at home. You can also order your shopping online and medication by phone or online. Delivery drivers should not come into your home, so make sure you ask them to leave items outside for collection. Further guidance on accessing food and essential supplies is available. If you do not have anyone who can support, or you have any non-medical queries you can contact the community and information line on 686262.
Check if your neighbourhood or local community has a volunteer system that could help bring you supplies or provide other support. 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.
If you are unable to work due to COVID-19, see funding and support guidance on the COVID-19 website to find out about support available to you.
If you are living with children
Keep following this advice to the best of your ability, however, we are aware that not all these measures will be possible.
What we have seen so far is that children with coronavirus appear to be less severely affected. It is nevertheless important to do your best to follow this guidance.
Please note, if children are co-habiting between parents, they cannot move between houses and must remain in isolation; or if not in isolation, then they may NOT return to the household that is isolating until the period of isolation has ended.
If you are breastfeeding
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, have tested positive or are living in a household with someone who has COVID-19, you may be concerned about the infection spreading to your baby if you are breastfeeding.
The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breast milk or by being in close contact, however, this will be an individual decision. Talk to your midwife, health visitor or GP by telephone.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus can be transmitted through breast milk. However, COVID-19 infection can be passed on to a baby in the same way as it can to anyone in close contact with you. The current evidence is that children with COVID-19 get much less severe symptoms than adults.
If you or a family member are feeding with formula or expressed milk, you should sterilise the equipment carefully before each use. You should not share bottles or a breast pump with someone else.
You can find more information from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
People with learning disabilities, autism or serious mental illnesses
Not all these measures will be possible if you, or those you live with, have conditions such as learning disabilities, autism or serious mental illnesses. Follow this guidance to the best of your ability, whilst keeping yourself and those close to you safe and well, ideally in line with any existing care plans.
If you have a vulnerable person living with you
Minimise as much as possible the time any vulnerable family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from vulnerable people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible. If they can, they should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure they use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.
If you do share a toilet and bathroom with a vulnerable person, it is important that you clean them every time you use them (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with the vulnerable person using the facilities first.
If you share a kitchen with a vulnerable person, avoid using it while they are present. If they can, they should take their meals back to their room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If the vulnerable person is using their own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces. See guidance on cleaning in non-clinical settings for further detailed advice.
The information in this guidance document has been adapted with kind permission from Public Health England.
The content has been taken from Public Health England: Stay at Home: Guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection [15 February 2021]
Issued by: Isle of Man Government Cabinet Office, Public Health Directorate, Cronk Coar, Nobles Hospital, Strang, Douglas, Isle of Man IM4 4RJ