Caring for someone who cannot self-isolate

It may not be possible for some people with COVID-19 to self-isolate. For example, a child, an older person or someone with a disability.

They will need your help with daily activities like washing, eating or going to the bathroom.

You and everyone else in the household need to take extra care to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Supporting someone with a disability during the COVID-19 pandemic

Restrict your movements

If you are caring for someone who cannot self-isolate, you and the rest of the household may need to restrict your movements (stay at home) for 17 days.

People in your household should do this if they:

  • are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • have not had COVID-19 in the past 9 months

The 17 days include the 10 days of the person's isolation and 7 days after their isolation period ends.

Restrict your movements from when the person you are caring for first developed symptoms. If they have no symptoms and their test is positive, restrict your movements for 17 days from the date of their test.

Even if other cases are identified in your household, you can stick to restricting your movements for 17 days.

People in your household do not have to restrict their movements if they:

  • are fully vaccinated against COVID-19
  • had a positive COVID-19 PCR test result in the past 9 months

But a contact tracer may ask you to restrict your movements if the person you are caring for has tested positive for a variant of concern. Always follow their advice.

If you develop symptoms, restrict your movements (stay at home) and get a COVID-19 test.

What we mean by fully vaccinated against COVID-19

You are fully vaccinated:

  • 7 days after your second Pfizer/BioNTech dose - also known as ‘Comirnaty’
  • 15 days after your second AstraZeneca dose - this vaccine may be called ‘Vaxzevria’ or ‘Covishield’
  • 14 days after your second Moderna dose - also known as ‘Spikevax’
  • 14 days after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine ‘Janssen’ - this is a single dose vaccine

Only have one carer

If possible, only one person should look after the person self-isolating. This should be someone who is in good health and fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if possible.

Ideally, 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

Caring for someone in isolation

If you are caring for someone in isolation, you should also:

  • wash your hands properly every time you have contact with the person
  • 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
  • limit their movement in the house
  • get them to use a different bathroom if possible
  • keep them away from older people, people with long-term conditions or pregnant women

If you live with someone else and you are self-isolating

Face coverings and face masks

Both of you should wear a face mask when you have to be in the same room, if possible. If you have one, wear a medical face mask.

If you do not have medical face masks, cloth face coverings will also help.

Read more about who should not wear a face mask

Last updated: 7 September 2021 at 5.55pm

Talk to a breastfeeding expert