Coronavirus: Should I self-isolate and how do I do it?

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What is self-isolation?

Self-isolation means cutting yourself off from the rest of the world.

You need to stay at home, not go to work, school or other public places, and avoid public transport or taxis, says Public Health England.

"Common-sense" steps include staying in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened and keeping away from other people in your home. Ask for help if you need groceries, other shopping or medication. It's OK to have friends, family or delivery drivers drop off supplies to get you through. But you shouldn't have any visitors, PHE says. You can have deliveries left on the doorstep.

Do I need to self-isolate?

From Friday 13th March 2020, everyone with flu-like symptoms - defined as a fever of above 37.8C or a persistent cough - is being asked to stay at home for at least seven days. Anyone that travelled to an affected area, been in close contact with infected persons, has already been told to self-isolate for 14 days.

If you need to self-isolate, the these are the procedures you should follow.

1. Stay at home

You or the person you are caring for should remain in your home, except for getting medical care (see sections 3 and 8 before getting medical care). Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis until told that it is safe to do so.

You will need to ask for help if you require groceries, other shopping or medications. Alternatively, you can order by phone or online. Delivery instruction needs to state that items to be left outside, in porch or as appropriate for your home.

2. Separate yourself from other people in your home*

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. Keep the door closed. Use a different bathroom from the rest of the household, if available. If you have to share these facilities, regular cleaning will be required. Evans Sazezone Plus® or Evans Professional Chlor Tabs® recommended.

If a separate bathroom is not available, consider drawing up a bathroom rota for washing or bathing. The isolated person needs to use the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves (* if able or appropriate). Ensure the isolated person uses separate towels from other household members, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand hygiene purposes.

Shared accommodation (university halls of residence or similar) with a communal kitchen, bathroom and living area, you should stay in your room with the door closed. Only come out when necessary, wear a face-mask if you have one. If you share a kitchen with others (such as university halls of residence or similar), and if possible, avoid using it while others are present.

If this is not possible, then wear a facemask. Take your meals back to your room to eat. Use a dishwasher (if available) to clean and dry your used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them by hand using detergent and warm water and dry them thoroughly, using a separate tea towel. If these recommendations cannot be followed, then home isolation should be avoided.

3. Call ahead before visiting your doctor

All medical appointments should be discussed in advance with your designated medical contact, using the number provided. Allowing the surgery or hospital to take steps to minimise contact with others.

4. Wear a face-mask if advised to

If supplied with facemasks, then you should wear a mask when you are in the same room with other people and when you visit a healthcare provider. If you cannot wear a facemask, the people who live with you should wear one while they are in the same room as you.

5. Cover your coughs and sneezes

Cover your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when you cough or sneeze. Carers of others undergoing testing for COVID-19 infection should use disposable cloths to wipe away any mucus or phlegm after they have sneezed or coughed.

Dispose of tissues into a plastic waste bag (see note 10. below for managing rubbish), and immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds rinse and dry thoroughly. Carers should wash their hands as well as helping the person they are caring for following coughing or sneezing.

6. Wash your hands

Wash your hands or assist the person you are caring for in washing their hands. Wash hands often and thoroughly with a premium soap, Evans Pink Pearl® Hand, Hair & Body Wash or Evans Orchard Fresh® Hand, Hair & Body Wash, always rinse with warm water.

Wash hands for a minimum 20 seconds, rinse with warm water and dry thoroughly.

Avoid using cotton hand towels; instead, use paper-towels and dispose of them after use. The same applies to those caring for people currently tested for SARS-CoV-2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

7. Avoid sharing household items

Do not share things such as, dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people in your home after you have used them. (or after your child or the person you are caring for has used them). After using these items, wash them thoroughly with soap and water; dishwashers may be used to clean crockery and cutlery.

Laundry, bedding and towels should be placed in a plastic bag and washed once it is known that the tests for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) are negative. If this is not possible and you need to clean the laundry see below for further advice on handling laundry.

8. Do not have visitors in your home

Only those who live in your home should be allowed to stay. Do not invite or allow visitors to enter. If you think there is an essential need for someone to visit, then discuss it with your designated medical contact first. If urgent, speak to someone who is not a member of your household, do this over the phone.

9. If you have pets in the household

Try to keep away from your pets. If this is unavoidable, wash your hands before and after contact. Use Evans Vanodine Handsan™ Alcohol Hand Sanitiser or Evans Orchard Fresh® Hand, Hair & Body Wash.

10. Laundry

If you need to clean the laundry at home before the results are available, then wash all laundry at the highest temperature compatible for the fabric using laundry detergent. Above 60 degrees C. If possible, tumble-dry and iron using the highest setting compatible with the material.

Wear disposable gloves and a plastic apron when handling soiled materials if possible and clean all surfaces and the area around the washing machine. Evans Safezone Plus® or Evans Professional Chlor Tabs®. Do not take laundry to a laundrette. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling dirty laundry (remove gloves first if used).

11. Waste

All waste that has been in contact with the individual, including used tissues, and masks if used, should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied.

Do not dispose of it or put it out for collection until you know that the patient does not have novel coronavirus. Should the individual test positive, you will be instructed what to do with the waste.

12. Monitor your symptoms (or the person you are caring for, as appropriate)

Seek prompt medical attention if your illness is worsening, for example, if you have difficulty breathing, or if symptoms of the person you are caring for worsen. If it’s not an emergency, you should call your designated medical contact point using the number that has been provided to you.

If it is an emergency and you need to call an ambulance, inform the call handler or operator that you are being tested for SARS-CoV-2 (or that you are caring for someone being tested for SARS-CoV-2, as appropriate).

13. What to do if you have a negative result

If you receive a negative test result for COVID-19, but you have travelled to a specified Category 1 country or area, please continue to self isolate. Until you have been back in the UK for 14 days, even if your symptoms have gone. If you receive a negative result and have travelled to a specified Category 2 country or area, please continue to self isolate until either your symptoms have gone or you have been back in the UK for 14 days, whichever is sooner.

If you receive a negative result and have had contact with a person known to have had COVID-19, you should remain in isolation until the end of the 14 days. If you develop new symptoms or your existing symptoms worsen within your 14 day isolation period, then please call NHS 111 and follow their advice.

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