Self-isolation periods have been extended for people with coronavirus symptoms - here’s what you need to know

Thursday, 30th July 2020, 2:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 30th July 2020, 2:12 pm
You must now self-isolate for at least 10 days, rather than seven (Photo: Shutterstock)
You must now self-isolate for at least 10 days, rather than seven (Photo: Shutterstock)

People who test positive for coronavirus, or display any symptoms, are now required to self-isolate for a longer period, health chiefs have announced.

The isolation period is currently set at seven days, but has been extended to 10 as ministers try to avoid a resurgence of the virus.

Here’s what you need to know about the changes.

How long do I have to self-isolate for?

If you test positive for coronavirus, or show symptoms, you must now self-isolate for at least 10 days, rather than seven.

The key symptoms include a new continuous cough, high temperature, or loss of taste or smell.

The chief medical officers for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland confirmed that it is "now the correct balance of risk" to extend the isolation period for those who test positive or have symptoms to 10 days.

In a statement, they said, "Evidence, although still limited, has strengthened and shows that people with Covid-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between seven and nine days after illness onset.”

Chief medical officers also said that the change is particularly important to help protect those who have been shielding, and in advance of the autumn and winter when there may be increased transmission.

The new advice is also in line with World Health Organization (WHO) guidance.

When will the isolation period change?

The change is to take effect immediately, with the 10 day isolation period to begin from when symptoms first appear, or from the day you have been tested.

The NHS advises that you can stop isolating after 10 days if you no longer have any symptoms, or if you just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste. This is because these two symptoms can last for weeks after the infection has gone.

You should continue to keep isolating for longer than 10 days if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • a runny nose or sneezing
  • feeling or being sick
  • diarrhoea
  • loss of appetite

You should only stop self-isolating once these symptoms have gone.

Why was the change made?

The extension to the self-isolation period comes following the spike in coronavirus cases that is beginning to emerge in Europe, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock warning the UK must work to prevent a similar surge over here.

Speaking to Sky News, he said, “I am worried about a second wave. I think you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe and we’ve got to do everything we can to prevent it from reaching these shores and to tackle it.”

The move comes after the UK government recently reimposed the ban on all but essential travel to Spain, following an outbreak of coronavirus cases in the country. All travellers who return to the UK from Spain must self-isolate for 14 days.

Mr Hancock also warned that new countries could be added to the quarantine list in the coming days, but added that ministers are looking at ways to reduce the quarantine period. This could possibly be done by using multiple tests.