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University of Bath

How long to isolate for

The length of time you need to isolate for depends on your situation.

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19

You should avoid contact with others in your household as much as possible, to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The NHS Test and Trace service will contact you by text, email or phone, asking you to log into the website and provide information about your recent close contacts. This information is used to give public health advice to your contacts, but they will not be told your identity.    

The first person that tests positive in a household needs to provide details of all people they live with, so that NHS Test and Trace has a record of them isolating.     

If you are not the first person testing positive in your household, you do not need to name other members of your household as contacts.    

You then need to isolate for a minimum of 10 days after your symptoms start. 

After your 10 days of isolation

You can stop self-isolating after 10 days if your symptoms have gone or if you continue to have just a cough or a loss of sense of taste or smell (anosmia).

This is because a cough or anosmia can last for several weeks once the infection has gone. 

If you still have a high temperature after 10 days, stay at home and seek medical advice. 

You must isolate for 10 days if you have been in contact with someone with symptoms but do not have any yourself.

If you only develop symptoms after testing positive  

If you do not have symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, self-isolate for 10 days from the day the test was taken.

If you develop symptoms after your test, restart your 10 day isolation period from the day the symptoms start. You must let us know so that we can update records and ensure that you are supported. 

If you test negative for COVID-19

If you receive a negative test result but someone else in your household is experiencing symptoms or has been tested positive, you must isolate for up to 10 days from the date the first person in your household reported experiencing symptoms.

When a whole household needs to self-isolate

Households need to self-isolate when any member(s) starts to experience symptoms or, if someone who is asymptomatic receives a positive test result, from the date that positive result is received.  

If you develop symptoms during the household self-isolation period 

Tell us that you are experiencing symptoms and get tested. 

Depending on your test result, you will be required to self-isolate for at least 10 days from when symptoms started.

This might mean that you end up self-isolating for up to 24 days. We will support you throughout this period.

If your test result is negative, then you will revert to the 10 day asymptomatic self-isolation period that was triggered by the first household case.  

If another member of my household develops symptoms after we have ended self-isolation

If anyone in your household develops COVID-19 symptoms after the isolation period has ended, they should arrange to have a test and everyone in the household should follow the steps in this guidance again and start isolating, even if they have had a positive COVID-19 test in the past.  

If you live with someone who has symptoms 

The whole household must isolate for 10 days. If another member of your household develops symptoms and tests positive during this isolation period, they are required to isolate for 10 days from the time they report the symptoms to us. This could mean that they are isolating for longer than the rest of the household.  

If, after the entire household completes their isolation period, another member of your household develops symptoms and tests positive, they must isolate for 10 days from the day they report their symptoms to us and the entire household must isolate again for 10 days. This is because it is not yet known whether the virus can be caught more than once. 

If someone with symptoms in your household doesn’t get tested 

If the first person in a household with symptoms chooses not to have a test, the presumption is that they are COVID-19 positive and they must self-isolate for at least 10 days.

This means that other members of the household also must isolate for at least 10 days.

The length of isolation for others in the household depends on if they:

  • develop symptoms
  • receive a positive test result
  • are asymptomatic – if you have no symptoms at all, you must still self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days 

How long to isolate for if you have symptoms

Your isolation period begins from the day you/ the symptoms in your household were reported and lasts for 10 days.     

The rest of your household needs to isolate for 10 days, unless any of them start experiencing symptoms. If this happens the person with new symptoms must isolate for 10 days from the day they report them to us.  

Your isolation period starts from the date you report your symptoms to us.

It does not start from the date you started experiencing them, unless you can provide evidence.  This is because we are unable to verify when you started experiencing any symptoms.

This is consistent across the University and why it is essential that you submit an online form with every change in your or your housemates conditions.

If you have had COVID-19 and develop symptoms again

If you develop symptoms at any point after ending your first period of isolation, you and your household should follow the steps in this guidance again. 

If you develop COVID-19 symptoms and had a positive test more than 14 days ago, you should arrange to have a new COVID-19 test. Self-isolate until you receive the test results. 

If you had a positive COVID-19 test in the last 14 days, you do not need to have another test. You will still need to self-isolate for another 10 days after your symptoms start. 

If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace

You must isolate for 10 days from the date you are given.

The NHS app indicates when this period ends. We may need a screen shot of this notification for our records.

You should reduce the contact you have with your household members as much as possible.

Food will be delivered to you for free. You will be provided with a microwave to heat your food and make hot drinks.

The rest of your household does not need to isolate unless you or they start to experience symptoms.