If you become unwell or have been in contact with someone who develops COVID-19

What to do if you think you, or someone you live with, has COVID-19, or if you have recently been in close contact with somebody who has developed COVID-19.

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COVID-19 symptoms

What to do if you develop symptoms and you are at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19

What to do if you develop symptoms and you are not at high risk

What to do if you are at high risk and someone you live with develops symptoms

What to do if you are at high risk and you have been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus

What to do if you are at high risk and someone you live with has been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus

You should also view the full government guidance for people at high risk and for people not at high risk.


COVID-19 symptoms

The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of:

  • a new continuous cough and/or
  • a high temperature and/or
  • a loss of or change in your sense of taste or smell.

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What to do if you develop symptoms and you are at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19

If you are at high risk of serious illness and you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough and/or a loss of or change in your sense of taste or smell):

Do this as soon as you get symptoms. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.

If you feel unwell in any other way, contact your medical team as usual.

If you need to go to hospital as a result of catching coronavirus, the government recommends that you prepare a single hospital bag. This should include:

  • details of your emergency contact
  • a list of the medications you take (including dose and frequency)
  • any information on your planned care appointments
  • things you need for an overnight stay (for example, nightwear, toothbrush, medication, snacks)
  • an advanced care plan, if you have one.

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What to do if you develop symptoms and you are not at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19

If you are not at high risk of serious illness and you develop symptoms of COVID-19 (a high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough and/or a loss of or change in your sense of taste or smell):

  • If you are having cancer treatment, call your key worker or chemotherapy helpline.
  • Stay at home for 10 days from when your symptoms started. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You do not need to contact the NHS to tell them you’re staying at home.
  • Arrange a test to check if you have the virus. If you can't book at test online,you can do it by phone. Call 119 if you’re in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, or 0300 303 2713 if you’re in Scotland.
  • While you are waiting for your test results, consider getting in touch with anybody you've been in close contact with in the last 48 hours to let them know you've developed symptoms. They do not need to self-isolate at this point but they might want to take extra care with social distancing and hand-washing.
  • If your test shows that you have COVID-19, you'll receive a text, email or phonecall from a contact tracing service (such as the NHS Test and Trace service), who will record details of people you've been in close contact with recently. If your test shows that you do not have COVID-19, you and other members of your household can end self-isolation.
  • If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms, your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 10 days, use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service (England); the online COVID-19 symptom checker (Northern Ireland); NHS Inform online COVID-19 self-help guide (Scotland); or NHS 111 (Wales) COVID-19 symptom checker (Wales) for advice. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

Take paracetamol to relieve your symptoms, unless your doctor has told you paracetamol is not suitable for you. There is no strong evidence that ibuprofen can make coronavirus worse, but until more evidence is available, the NHS is advising people not to take it if you have symptoms. If you are already taking ibuprofen or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of a doctor, do not stop taking it without checking first.

You must remain at home until you are well. Current government guidance as at 20 September states:

  • If you test positive for COVID-19, you must self-isolate for 10 days from the day of your test even if you do not have any symptoms. If you develop symptoms during your isolation period, you must restart your 10-day isolation from the day you develop symptoms.
  • If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 10 days from when your symptoms started.
  • After 10 days, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to continue to self-isolate. If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal. You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough or change in taste or smell after 10 days, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
  • If you live with other people and you are the first person in your household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 10 days. All other members of your household or support bubble who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.
  • If anyone else in your household or support bubble starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 10 days from when their symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period.
  • If you can, arrange for any vulnerable people who live with you (such as elderly people or people with underlying health conditions) to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period.
  • If you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible.
  • If you develop new coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms at any point after ending your first period of isolation (self or household) then you need to follow the same guidance on self-isolation and testing again, even if you have had a positive coronavirus test in the past.

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What to do if you are at high risk and someone you live with develops symptoms

Based on current government advice, if you are at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 and someone you live with develops symptoms:

  • If possible, you should arrange to stay with friends or family for 14 days to avoid contact with the person who has symptoms.
  • If you cannot move out of your home, stay away from the person with symptoms as much as possible. Visit our guidance on shielding for people with lymphoma for more information on how to do this.
  • Follow the usual advice if you develop symptoms.

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What to do if you are at high risk and you have been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus

If you are contacted by an official contact tracing service to let you know you've recently been in contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus:

  • Stay at home for 14 days from the day you were last in contact with the person.
  • Do not leave your home for any reason.
  • Do not have visitors in your home, except for essential care.
  • Try to avoid contact with anyone you live with as much as possible.
  • Follow the usual advice if you develop symptoms.

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What to do if you are at high risk and someone you live with has been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus

If you are at high risk of serious illness due to COVID-19 and someone you live with is contacted by an official contact tracing service to let them know they've recently been in contact with a person who has tested positive for coronavirus:

  • If possible, you should arrange to stay with friends or family for 14 days.
  • If you cannot move out of your home, stay away from the person who has been in contact with someone with coronavirus as much as possible. Visit our guidance on shielding for people with lymphoma for more information on how to do this.
  • Follow the usual advice if you develop symptoms.

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