Do I isolate if I live with someone who has Covid and when should I do a PCR test?

The rules that mean a person should be self-isolating can be tricky for some to work out. Here are the specific guidelines that apply to people living with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus

Self-isolating is one of the ways the UK is tackling the virus
Self-isolating is one of the ways the UK is tackling the virus

A lot of people did not have an easy Christmas, forced to isolate themselves away from their loved ones due to the coronavirus.

It is one of the necessary barriers the UK government has put in place to try and stop the spread of the virus, however, as cases reached a new high once again.

The UK recorded 129,471 new Covid cases on Tuesday, December 29, 2021 a new daily record and a 42% increase in cases compared to the week prior’s figure of 90,629.

Despite the surge and ongoing pandemic, some people remain confused about when to isolate and if they should after coming into contact with someone who has the virus. So what are isolation rules and should you isolate if you live with someone who has Covid?

Do I need to isolate if I live with someone who has Covid in England ?

Currently, people in England may not have to isolate


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In England, there are certain circumstances that mean you do not have to isolate if you live with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

If you do come into contact with someone with Covid, then there is no need to isolate if the following applies:

  • You are fully vaccinated. 14 days must have passed since your final dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine
  • If you are under 18 years and 6 months old
  • If you are taking part or have taken part in an approved COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • You are unable to get vaccinated due to medical reasons

However, you should do daily lateral flow tests (LFT) for seven days and isolate immediately if you do test positive.

Isolation in England can last seven days if a person tests negative on day six and seven and has no symptoms.

To be considered fully vaccinated, the UK government advises: “Currently, a person is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after having received two doses of an approved vaccine (such as Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Moderna/Spikevax) or one dose of the single-dose Janssen vaccine.”

It is not clear when this will change to include the booster jab.

These rules are different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In Scotland, you should self-isolate for 10 days if anyone in your household tests positive.

For Wales, the 10 days apply if a person is not fully vaccinated and lives with someone who tests positive, or if they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

In Northern Ireland, if you are an unvaccinated adult living with someone who tests positive or is a close contact of a positive case, you must self-isolate. You will also be asked to take a PCR test on days two and eight.

How can someone with Covid safely isolate at home?

There are guides for those living at home with someone who has the virus


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The government has clear guidance on how a person living at home can safely isolate when living with someone who has the coronavirus.

They have shared seven steps that should help people to avoid getting infected with the virus, which are as follows:

  • You should limit close contact with others and spend as little time as possible in communal areas
  • Shared rooms like kitchens and bathrooms are to be regularly cleaned and so should surfaces that have been touched
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
  • Avoid contact as much as possible, even if bringing food
  • If spending time in a shared space is necessary, wear a face covering
  • Keep rooms well-ventilated
  • Coughs and sneezes should be caught in tissues and put straight in the bin. Wash your hands after

When to do a PCR test and how to get one

Anyone who has had a positive LFT test should isolate


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Anyone who has had a positive LFT test in England, or has Covid symptoms, should isolate until they receive the results of a PCR test.

PCR tests are more accurate than LFTs and should be ordered once a person starts experiencing symptoms of the virus.

The three main symptoms are:

  • A high temperature
  • A new continuous cough
  • A loss or change in sense of smell or taste

You can book a PCR test to take at home or at a PCR test site on the Government website. You can also find your nearest testing clinic here.

Due to demand, there have been problems with PCR tests being unavailable to book. If this occurs, people are advised to ring 119 between 7am and 11pm for advice, but this should not be used to try and book a test.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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