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  • Writer's pictureTracy Tristram

Coronavirus in London: When should I self-isolate?

Updated: Aug 29, 2020




There isn't a person in London - and indeed the whole of the UK - who isn't talking about Coronavirus right now. We're all being cautious and keeping unnecessary contact to a minimum already (and no, we're not stockpiling toilet rolls or pasta), but when is it time to self isolate and quarantine ourselves or our families? How long should we self-isolate for? And who do we contact if we need some help? We've put together this handy guide with all the answers.


What is self-isolation?


Basically, it is shutting yourself off from the outside world, including a ban on visitors. No going to the office, no school, no public places and no going out into public: all with the aim to try and halt the spread of the wretched coronavirus.


When should I self-isolate?


You should self-isolate for 14 days if you have any symptoms of fever (37.8C or above) or a new cough. Self-isolation should begin from the day you present symptoms.


You should also self-isolate If you have been in contact with an infected person, ie, you have spent 15 minutes within 2 metres (3 steps) of someone with COVID-19, or have been face-to-face with them, then you should also self-isolate for 14 days.


How do I manage my self-isolation?


Try to keep at least 2 metres (3 steps) from other people in your home, particularly older people or those with long-term health conditions. If you need shopping or medication, ask friends and family to deliver to you, but avoid having contact with them. Encourage them to leave deliveries on the doorstep.


Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds at a time. The singing of Happy Birthday as per Mr Johnson's suggestion is entirely up to you...


Tissues, wipes and other personal waste should be stored in disposable rubbish bags, double bagged and then kept separate. Put them in your normal outside bin after 3 days has passed.


Sleep alone.


Keep well away from older people and those with long-term health conditions.


Drink LOTS of water. Keeping hydrated is essential.


Do not share utensils, towels, bed linen and other household items with others whilst self-isolating.


Keep your home well-ventilated, and if possible keep a window open to let clean air in.


Manage any symptoms with painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.


London COVID-19 Mutual Aid Groups


Help is at hand via your local COVID-19 Mutual Aid Group. Someone might even bring you an illusive loo roll.

We are aware that getting hold of these things can be a little tricky at the moment, but most areas have set up local groups where people self-isolating can ask for help with all things coronavirus related. We ourselves are members of the Havering COVID-19 Mutual Aid group, which has almost 2k members and is growing daily. It is heartwarming to see so many people stepping up to help those in need.


Here is the current list for groups across London:



How long should I self-isolate for?


Current guidelines state that you should self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days from the onset of symptoms, or exposure. If your symptoms worsen or you are still ill by the end of the 14 days, then spend another 14 days self-isolating.


When to seek medical attention


If you feel that your condition is worsening, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. If it is not an emergency, contact NHS 111 online.


If it is an emergency and you need an ambulance, dial 999 and tell the call handler that you have Covid 19.


Stay safe, everyone!


All information correct as at time of publishing.


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