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Last updated: 26 May 2020 at 4.40pm

Self-isolation means staying indoors and completely avoiding contact with other people.

You will need to self-isolate:

  • if you have symptoms of coronavirus
  • before you get tested for coronavirus
  • while you wait for test results
  • if you have had a positive test result for coronavirus
  • if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms, such as sore throat, runny nose, blocked nose, cough or wheezing
  • if you arrive in Ireland from any other country - this includes Irish citizens coming home

Most people with coronavirus will only have mild symptoms and will get well within weeks. Even though the symptoms are mild, you can still spread the virus to others.

Read about when to get medical help if you need it.

How to self-isolate

Stay indoors and avoid contact with other people. Behave as if you have the virus if you have symptoms. People you live with will need to restrict their movements.

Do

Stay at home, in a room with a window you can open.

Keep away from others in your home as much as you can.

Check your symptoms - call a doctor if they get worse. Phone your doctor if you need to - do not visit them.

Cover your coughs and sneezes using a tissue - clean your hands properly afterwards.

Wash your hands properly and often.

Use your own towel - do not share a towel with others.

Clean your room every day with a household cleaner or disinfectant.

Don't

Do not go to work, school, religious services or public areas.

Do not share your things.

Do not use public transport or taxis.

Do not invite visitors to your home.

Keep away from older people, anyone with long-term medical conditions and pregnant women.

It's OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food or supplies. Make sure you're not in the same room as them when they do.

Stay in touch with your GP or doctor

You may be self-isolating because you have symptoms of coronavirus. If you are, phone your GP if you start to feel very unwell. Particularly if your breathing changes or becomes difficult, or your cough gets worse.

If you are getting very short of breath, phone your GP or GP out-of-hours service immediately.

If you develop a fever or any respiratory symptoms phone your GP or HSELive on 1850 24 1850.

When you can stop self-isolating

Only stop self-isolation when both of these apply to you:

  • you have had no fever for 5 days
  • it has been 14 days since you first developed symptoms

Follow this advice to protect yourself and others from coronavirus.

If you live with other people and you are self-isolating

Stay in a room with a window you can open.

If you can, use a toilet and bathroom that no one else in the house uses.

If you have to share a bathroom with others, use the bathroom last and then clean it thoroughly.

Do not share any items you’ve used with other people.

Things you should not share include:

  • food
  • dishes
  • drinking glasses
  • cups
  • knives, forks and spoons
  • towels
  • bedding

Meals

If possible, have someone leave your food on a tray at your bedroom door.

When you have finished, leave everything on the tray at the door.

This should be collected and put in a dishwasher and hands washed properly afterwards.

If you don't have a dishwasher:

  • wash in hot soapy water, wearing rubber gloves
  • leave to air dry
  • wash the rubber gloves while you are still wearing them
  • remove gloves and wash your hands

Wash your hands often

Wash your hands properly and often with soap and water or clean them with an alcohol-based hand rub.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.

Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.

How to wash your hands properly

Using the bathroom

If possible use a toilet that no one else is using.

If that is not possible and you do not have your own toilet or bathroom, clean your hands before entering, after using the toilet and before you leave the room.

Clean any surfaces you have touched after using the bath or shower. Do not share your towels with anyone else.

If you are not well enough to do this yourself, someone else in the house can do this for you. The person should use household or rubber gloves if they can. They should wash and dry the gloves after each use. They should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after taking off the gloves.

Use a detergent or disinfectant to clean your home

Many cleaning and disinfectant products sold in supermarkets can kill coronavirus on surfaces.

Use your usual household products, like detergents and bleach, as these are very good at getting rid of the virus. Follow the instructions on the manufacturer’s label and check they can be used on the surface you are cleaning.

Clean all surfaces every day as usual with a detergent, disinfectant or disinfectant wipe.

This includes:

  • counters
  • table-tops
  • doorknobs
  • bathroom fixtures
  • toilets and toilet handles
  • phones
  • keyboards
  • tablets
  • bedside tables

Clean remote controls, games consoles and similar items thoroughly before anyone else in the house uses them. If you cough or sneeze on them wipe them clean immediately.

If you have rubber gloves, wear them when cleaning surfaces, clothing or bedding. Wash the gloves while still wearing them, then wash your hands after you take them off.

Wash reusable cleaning cloths in a hot wash cycle of a washing machine after use. Put disposable gloves and cleaning cloths in a plastic waste bag after using them.

If you are not well enough to do this yourself, someone else in the house can do this for you. The person should use household or rubber gloves if they can. They should wash and dry the gloves after each use. They should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after taking off the gloves.

Read advice on good hygiene and hand washing.

Laundry

Put your dirty laundry in a plastic bag. Have someone collect it from your bedroom door. If possible, they should wear rubber gloves.

They should:

  • hold the laundry away from themselves
  • wash the laundry at the highest temperature for the material, with a laundry detergent
  • clean all surfaces and the area around the washing machine
  • wash the rubber gloves while still wearing them
  • wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after removing the gloves or handling dirty laundry

If possible tumble dry and iron using a hot setting or steam iron.

Do not take laundry to a launderette.

Managing rubbish

Put all personal waste, including used tissues, masks and all cleaning waste in a plastic rubbish bag. Tie the bag when it is almost full. Place the plastic bag in a second bin bag and tie the bag.

Leave the bag somewhere safe. The bags should be left for 3 days before collection.

Dispose of other waste the way you usually would.

If you are not well enough to do this yourself, someone else in the house can do this for you. The person should use household or rubber gloves if they can. They should wash and dry the gloves after each use. They should wash their hands thoroughly.

If you have face masks

You may have to be in a room with someone who has coronavirus. If you do, and you have face masks, the person with coronavirus should wear the mask.

If you wear a mask, you should put it on and take it off in the room in which you are self-isolating.

Read about how to use a face mask properly.

Keeping well during self-isolation

Keep yourself mobile by getting up and moving around as much as possible. If you have a garden, backyard or balcony go out and get some fresh air. But keep more than 2 metres away from other people.

Stay hydrated and try to avoid alcohol if you are not feeling well.

Read about smoking and coronavirus.

Stay in touch with people over the phone. Ask a family member, friend or neighbour to check in with you over the phone a few times every day. Let them know how you are feeling.

Self-isolation can be boring or frustrating. It may affect your mood and feelings. You may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping.

Read advice about minding your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Follow this advice to protect yourself and others from coronavirus.

Read advice on protecting your child from coronavirus.

Caring for someone in self-isolation

You may be caring for a child, family member or someone who needs support while they are in self-isolation. If you are, follow the advice above.

You should also:

  • stay away from them as much as possible (at least 2 metres) and avoid touching them - use your phone to communicate
  • wash your hands properly every time you have contact with the person
  • if you have face masks, both of you should wear one when you have to be in the same room – children under the age of 2 should not wear a mask
  • if you have to clean phlegm or spit from their face use a clean tissue, put it into a waste bag and wash your hands
  • put them in a well-ventilated room alone
  • limit their movement in the house
  • get them to use a different toilet if possible
  • limit the number of caregivers
  • keep them away from older people, people with long-term conditions or pregnant women

If possible, only one person should look after the person self-isolating. Ideally, this would be someone who is in good health.

Translated resources

Visit the HPSC website for translated information about self-isolation.

Related topics

What to do if you live with someone who has coronavirus symptoms

Caring for a child or someone else in self-isolation

When to get medical help

Treat coronavirus symptoms at home