The new advice for people with Coronavirus symptoms explained
Who is this advice for?
Anyone who gets Coronavirus symptoms — a new persistent cough, fever or loss of sense of taste or smell. As before, you should isolate immediately and not leave home.
What should I do once I’m isolated?
You should order a test to find out if you have Coronavirus — leaving home to go to a testing centre is allowed.
What happens if I test positive?
You must stay at home for at least ten days, rather than seven days as previously. If you still have your fever after ten days, you must stay at home until it has gone. Coughs and loss of smell can last for weeks, but you can leave home with these after ten days as long as you feel otherwise well.
What happens if I test negative?
You no longer have to isolate. The NHS has grown more confident about advising this now that tests are usually available quickly.
Will this lead to many more people isolating?
Government medical advisers believe not, judging that the extra three days of isolation will be offset by the people who will be freed after getting a rapid negative result.
Why has the change been made?
People are most infectious around the start of symptoms and the risk of passing on the virus after about a week is low. However, there is emerging evidence that it can be transmitted seven to nine days after symptoms start and officials want to be ultra-cautious given that cases are low in Britain, but starting to rise.
Is this linked to outbreaks in Europe? Medical advisers say not, insisting that they are making the change because, as people are allowed to mix more, there is a need to be more careful about those who may be infectious. However, they acknowledge that they are cautioned by seeing from other European countries how quickly the epidemic can flare up again.
What do other countries advise on isolation?
The World Health Organisation recently introduced guidance saying that people should isolate for at least ten days, and 13 days if they have symptoms.