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If you have COVID-19

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you can pass on the virus to other people.

You need to:

Read separate advice if you have symptoms of COVID-19 but have not had a test

There is separate advice for children under age 18 who have COVID-19.

How long you should stay at home

Stay at home from the date you first had symptoms.

You can leave home after 5 days if:

  • your symptoms have fully or mostly gone for the last 48 hours

It's OK to leave home after 5 days if you still have a mild cough or changes to your sense of smell. These can last for weeks after the infection has gone.

Avoid meeting people at very high risk

Avoid meeting people who are at very high risk for 10 days. This starts from the day you first had symptoms.

This is because you may still be infectious for up to 10 days.

See conditions that put you at higher risk of COVID-19

If you do not have symptoms

If you did not have symptoms but have tested positive, stay at home for 5 days from the day you first tested positive.

Avoid meeting people at very high risk for 10 days from the day you first tested positive.

Urgent advice: Phone your GP if:

  • you feel very unwell
  • your breathing changes or becomes difficult
  • your cough gets worse

Do not go to your GP or to a pharmacy in person.

Emergency action required: Call 112 or 999 if:

  • you are very short of breath and your GP is not available

Get support

If you need to stay at home, stay in touch with people over the phone. Ask a family member, friend or neighbour to check in with you over the phone. Let them know how you are feeling.

Older people can phone the charity ALONE on 0818 222 024 (Alone) for help.

Staying at home can be boring or frustrating and it may affect your mood and feelings. You may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping.

Read advice about:

Page last reviewed: 9 February 2024