If you are showing Coronavirus symptoms or have the virus, you must self-isolate and stay away from other people, including the person that you care for.
The Government has changed its guidelines again and now anyone over 5 years of age can be tested, if they have the symptoms of Coronavirus.
Carers are classified as essential workers (such as doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff, including volunteers and unpaid carers.)
This means that if you think you have Coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough and/or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste), you can get tested. And, if anyone else in your house has symptoms, they can get tested as well.
How to arrange your test: You need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms. It’s best to apply for the test in the first 3 days as it may take 1 or 2 days to arrange.
You might not get a test if you apply – it depends how many tests are available in your area. Frontline essential workers such as NHS staff will be given priority. If you’re applying for someone else and they’re aged 13 and over, you must check that they are happy for you to apply for them.
To arrange your test, you need to go to the government website and make a self-referral. There’s also a useful Self-referral portal: user guide. You will be able to choose a regional test site drive-through appointment or home test kit.
The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat. There are some video clips to show you how to do it.
If you’ve had experience of booking a test, we’d love to hear from you – please let us know how you got on by leaving us a comment.
The Government has recently introduced “Test and Trace” and is asking you to write down your recent close contacts now so that you have them to hand if you test positive for Coronavirus.
‘Close contact’ means having face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes or sharing a closed space – this is why we are advised to avoid public transport.
If you have asked for a test, you may wish to alert the people with whom you have had close contact over the last 48 hours. You should tell them that you might have Coronavirus but are waiting for a test result. They do not need to self-isolate, but they should take extra care in practising social distancing and good hygiene, like washing their hands regularly. They should also watch out for their own symptoms.
If you get a positive test result (you are infected with the Coronavirus), the NHS Test and Trace Service will contact you and ask you to share information about any close contacts you had just before or after you developed symptoms. If NHS Test and Trace Service calls you by phone, they will be using a single phone number: 0300 013 5000. Alternatively, they may send you text messages from ‘NHS’.
All information you provide to the NHS Test and Trace Service is held in strict confidence and will only be kept and used in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.
What this also might mean, of course, is that you (or a member of your household, or the person you care for) could be contacted by the NHS Test and Track Service to say that they have identified you as someone who has had close recent contact with someone who has tested positive for Coronavirus. This will mean that you must self-isolate.
If the NHS Test and Trace Service contacts you by phone, they will be using a single phone number: 0300 013 5000. You will be asked to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website.
You may be feeling well and not have any symptoms, but it is still essential for you to follow the advice that you are given. This is because, if you have been infected, you could be infectious to others at any point up to 14 days. Some people infected with the virus don’t show any symptoms at all and it is therefore crucial to self-isolate to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
Self-isolation means staying at home and not going outside your home at any time. If you live with other people, they do not need to self-isolate, but they should avoid contact with you as far as possible. If you do not live with other people, you should seek help from others, or delivery services, for essential activities such as food shopping.
If you go on to develop symptoms, anyone you live with must then self-isolate and you must report your symptoms and get tested.
It is crucial that you complete your 14-day self-isolation period, even if you get a negative test result. This is because you may have the virus, but it cannot yet be detected by a test, so you could unknowingly spread the virus if you leave the house. Other members of your household, however, do not need to remain in self-isolation.
If you do not have symptoms, you must not seek a test, as the scientific evidence shows that the test may not be able to detect whether you have the virus.
The NHS Test and Trace Service will provide a notification that you can use as evidence that you have been told to self-isolate. This notification can be shared with an employer or education provider.
Further information about Test and Trace can be found here.
If you live with the person that you are caring for and you suspect that they have Coronavirus, you should try to isolate them, monitor their condition and prevent the spread of the virus (please use the Coronavirus symptom checker). Arrange for them to be tested through the government website (because they live with a key worker).
It is very important that individuals with symptoms that may be due to Coronavirus and their household members stay at home. Staying at home will help control the spread of the virus to friends, the wider community, and particularly the most vulnerable. Everyone in the household (including those with no symptoms) should stay at home and not leave your house for 14 days.
Ideally, you should not go out even to buy food or other essentials, and any exercise should be taken within your home. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in your house became ill. If this is not practicable, then you should do what you can to limit your social contact when you leave the house to get essential supplies. Please cover your nose and mouth, and read the guidance on how to wear and make a cloth face covering.
You should try to isolate the person with symptoms from the rest of the household – it is the best way to protect everyone else. We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. But, you should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
It sounds rough, but minimise as much as possible the time any infected family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.
Aim to keep 2 metres (6 feet) away from infected people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a separate room where possible. If they can, they should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household.
If you do share a toilet and bathroom with a vulnerable person, it is important that you clean them every time you use them (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Make sure they use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes. Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with the vulnerable person using the facilities first.
If you share a kitchen with an infected person, avoid using it while they are present. If they can, they should take their meals back to their room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If the infected person is using their own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.
Every day, clean all surfaces that are touched often, like kitchen worktops, tabletops, and doorknobs. Use household cleaning sprays or wipes according to the label instructions.
Wash laundry thoroughly. If laundry is soiled, wear disposable gloves and keep the soiled items away from your body while laundering. Wash your hands immediately after removing gloves.
Seek prompt medical attention if their illness is getting worse – if they feel that they cannot cope with their symptoms at home, or their condition gets worse, or the symptoms do not get better after 7 days – this might include:
- trouble breathing;
- persistent pain or pressure in the chest;
- new confusion or inability to arouse; or
- bluish lips or face.
If it’s not an emergency, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call 111. If it is an emergency and you need to call an ambulance, dial 999 and inform the call handler or operator that they have Coronavirus symptoms.
If you live with the person that you are caring for and you suspect that you have Coronavirus, you should isolate yourself – if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the person that you are caring for – if they are not displaying any Coronavirus symptoms) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period – 7 to 14 days.
If you don’t live with the person that you care for and you suspect that they have Coronavirus, you should try to isolate them, monitor their condition and prevent the spread of the virus (please use the Coronavirus symptom checker). Arrange for them to be tested through the NHS website.
People who do not have any access to the internet, or who have difficulty with the digital portals, can ring a new 119 service to book their test.