Coronavirus : Shielding most vulnerable

Support to Self Isolate

What self-isolation is

Self-isolation is when you do not leave your home because you have or might have COVID-19. This helps stop the virus from spreading to other people.

Latest rules

  • People fully vaccinated or under 18 will not need to self-isolate after close contact with someone who has COVID-19.
  • You will still need to take a PCR test and self-isolate if it’s positive, or if you have symptoms. It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive.

When to self-isolate

Self-isolate immediately if:

If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, book a test immediately.

Symptoms include:

  • high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

What self-isolation involves

You must not leave your home if you're self-isolating

  • Do not go to work, school or public places – work from home if you can.
  • Do not use public transport or taxis.
  • Do not go out to get food and medicine – order it online, by phone or ask someone to drop it to your home.
  • Do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for those providing essential care.
  • Do not go out to exercise – exercise at home or in your garden, if you have one.

How long you need to self-isolate for

It can take up to 10 days to develop symptoms after exposure – this is known as the incubation period – and this is the period of time you need to self-isolate unless you develop symptoms at some point during the 10 days. If you have been fully vaccinated or are under 18, then you do not need to self-isolate, unless you develop COVID-19 symptoms or test positive for it.

Example: Tom's story

  • Day 0 - Tom was exposed to COVID-19
  • Day 5 - Tom got tested and was negative.
  • Day 7 - Thinking he didn't have COVID-19, Tom went to work and was in close contact with 20 people.
  • Day 9 - Tom developed symptoms and tested positive. He was contagious for three days before his symptoms started and exposed 20 people to COVID-19. Depending on their vaccination status, these 20 people may all need to self-isolate for ten days.

This is why it is so important to self-isolate for the allocated time and to book a test only if you develop symptoms. Children do not need to self-isolate unless they have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

Below is a handy summary for how long you should self-isolate for:

If you develop symptoms Isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms.
If you test positive Isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms or test day if none.
If you are told you've been in close contact with someone who has tested positive and you have not had both vaccinations  Isolate for 10 days from the last contact with the positive case.
If you have been contacted by the Test and Trace service, and you have not had both vaccinations Isolate for 10 days from the last contact with the positive case.
If you live in a household where others (including children) develop symptoms, or they have tested positive. and you have not had both vaqccinations Isolate for 10 days from when they developed symptoms or test day if none.
If you are told you've been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, and you have not had both vaccinations. Isolate for 10 days from the last contact with the positive case.

Keep self-isolating if you have any of these symptoms after 10 days:

  • a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
  • a runny nose or sneezing
  • feeling or being sick
  • diarrhoea.

Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone. If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.

You can stop self-isolating after 10 days if either:

  • you do not have any symptoms
  • you just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste – these can last for weeks after the infection has gone.

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms while isolating

There is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19, but you can often ease the symptoms at home until you recover:

  • get lots of rest
  • drink plenty of fluids (water is best) to avoid dehydration
  • take paracetamol or ibuprofen if you feel uncomfortable.
  • avoid lying on your back if you have a cough.

If you're feeling breathless, it can help to keep your room cool. Try turning the heating down or opening a window. Do not use a fan as it may spread the virus.

You could also try:

  • breathing slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth, with your lips together like you're gently blowing out a candle
  • sitting upright in a chair
  • relaxing your shoulders, so you're not hunched
  • leaning forward slightly – support yourself by putting your hands on your knees or something stable like a chair.

If you are concerned about your symptoms or feel breathless and it's getting worse, get medical advice from the NHS 111 online COVID-19 service.

Support to help you self-isolate

There is lots of support available to help you stay safe at home:

  • Friends and family may be able to help with shopping and anything else you need
  • Many supermarkets and local and community shops will prioritise delivery for those required to self-isolate
  • Older people can contact Age UK Oxfordshire who offer a support and advice line. Contact 01865 411288. A ‘keep in touch’ phone contact service is also available
  • Help with mental health - If you feel anxious about your finances, worried about your friends and family or angry and are struggling with day-to-day living you can contact your GP or find out what services are available to you.
  • Your local community support group or town or parish council may also be able to help. Support groups remain listed at Oxfordshire All In
  • Community food providers and free school meals - there are also a number of community food providers on hand (such as food banks, community larders etc), including those supported by food and other essential supplies grants, to support those struggling. You can ask your local council about community food support in your area or visit the Good Food Oxford website.  If your child has a benefits-related entitlement to free school meals and is required to stay at home to self-isolate, you are entitled to a food parcel, shopping vouchers or alternative provision. Contact your child’s school or college for further information.

If you need any further assistance on what help is available,please contact Cherwell District Council on 01295 227051

We know that for many, staying at home will have a major financial impact. Welfare support and advice is available from Citizens Advice in partnership with Cherwell District Council. Contact 0300 330 9037. A one off payment of £500 is also now available to low-income earners required to self-isolate. 

Apply for a self-isolation payment.