What is self-isolating and how do you do it?

People showing symptoms of the coronavirus are being asked to isolate themselves to stop the spread of the disease.

But what is self-isolating and what does it entail?

– What is self-isolating?

Self-isolating is when a person showing symptoms of the strain of coronavirus – also known as Covid-19 – is asked to stay at home for 14 days to prevent the spread of the infection.

Symptoms include a cough, high temperature and shortness of breath.

Currently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates the incubation period to be up to 14 days, and recommends that the follow-up of contacts of confirmed cases is the same period.

– Who should isolate themselves?

Anyone with symptoms of cough, fever or shortness of breath who has returned from China within the last 14 days should self-isolate and call the NHS.

This also applies to travellers who have recently returned from other parts of China, such as Macau and Hong Kong, or Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea or Malaysia.

Health professionals will then arrange for people with suspected cases of coronavirus to be tested.

Covid-19 in the UK
(PA Graphics)

– How do you self-isolate?

People who have been asked to isolate themselves should stay at home and avoid contact with the public.

The NHS says people should not go to school, work or public areas, not use public transport or taxis and avoid visitors at home.

Friends, family and delivery drivers can still carry out errands such as delivering food.

– What about living with a person in self-isolation?

People living with someone who is self-isolating are advised to limit contact with the patient as much as possible, Public Health England (PHE) said.

They should wash their hands often and thoroughly, ensure that shared spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms are well ventilated, and avoid sharing household items.

Visitors should not be invited to the home and people at increased risk of the illness – such as those with a chronic illness or weakened immune system – should avoid contact with the patient.

Covid-19: confirmed cases
(PA Graphics)

Laundry should be washed at the highest temperature possible, and surfaces should be cleaned every day.

– Can you be forced to self-isolate?

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said that the coronavirus outbreak represents a “serious and imminent threat to public health”.

New legal powers mean people with coronavirus can be forcibly quarantined and will not be free to leave, and can be forcibly sent into isolation if they pose a threat.

Arrowe Park Hospital in Merseyside and Kents Hill Park in Milton Keynes have been designated “isolation facilities”, the Government said.

– How can you reduce the spread of the coronavirus?

Because it is a new illness, it is not known exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person, but similar viruses spread in cough droplets, the NHS said.

It recommends people cover their mouths and noses with a tissue or sleeve – not their hands – when coughing or sneezing, and binning tissues immediately.

People should also wash their hands with soap and water often and try to avoid contact with people who are unwell.

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