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For adults, self-isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people. But the advice is different for children.

It's not possible to ask children to isolate on their own, especially if they are very young. They will need an adult to look after them, while helping to reduce the risk of the spreading the virus.

Your child and that adult should try to completely avoid contact with other people, including the other people they live with.

Choose one carer to look after your child

Only one person should look after your child while they isolate. This should be someone who is in good health.

It should not be someone who:

  • has a long-term illness
  • has a weak immune system
  • is older than 70

People in these groups are at a higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

When your child will need to isolate from other people

You will need to isolate your child from other people if they have:

  • a high temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more
  • a new cough
  • loss or changed sense of taste or smell
  • shortness of breath
  • an existing breathing condition that has recently become worse, such as asthma

Phone your GP. Your child may also need a test for COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Read practical advice on what people need to do when self-isolating.

Your child does not need to isolate if they are:

  • a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have no symptoms
  • living with someone who is unwell and may have the virus.

But they do need to restrict their movements in these instances.

Difference between isolating and restricting your movements

Isolating from other people and restricting your movements are two different things. During both, your child should not go to school or childcare. Everyone they live with should stay at home.

Your child or the people they live with may have been told to restrict their movements. This means staying at home and avoiding contact with people outside their household.

Read more about the difference between isolating and restricting your movements.

Everyone in your household should restrict movements

Your child may need help with daily activities like washing, eating or going to the bathroom. Because of this, everyone your child lives with will need to take extra care to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

You and everyone in your household should restrict your movements for 17 days. This includes the 10 days your child is in isolation and a further 7 days after the isolation.

As you will all be close contacts, you will also need to be tested for coronavirus.

How long your child needs to isolate from other people

If your child is told to isolate, they'll need to stay in isolation at least until they get their test result.

If their test result is positive they should keep isolating until both of these apply:

  • they have not had a high temperature (38 degrees Celsius or over) for 5 days
  • it has been 10 days since they first developed symptoms

If your child has no symptoms but was tested because they are a close contact, they can stop self-isolating 10 days from when they had their test.

Read about what they need to do if their test result is negative.

If anyone else in your house has symptoms or becomes ill

If anyone else in your house becomes ill, self-isolate and phone your GP.

Adults or children over 13 should follow separate advice on self-isolation.

You may also need a COVID-19 test and to treat your symptoms at home.

Related topics

Testing for children

Explaining COVID-19 to your child

What to do if you live with someone with COVID-19

Last updated: 28 October 2020 at 5pm

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