Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed that the Government is moving to the “delay” or suppression phase in the fight against COVID-19, hoping to push it away from the winter season when pressures on the NHS are more acute.

The latest advice

Public Health England (PHE) sets out the latest official advice in COVID-19: Stay at Home Guidance as follows:

  • if someone has a new continuous cough, and/or a high temperature (+37.5°C), they should stay at home and not leave the house for 7 days from when the symptoms started if they live alone; if they live with others, the whole household should self-isolate for 14 days

  • they should avoid vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, the pregnant and those with underlying health conditions

  • they should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window open as much as possible to enable ventilation and air flow to keep clean air moving through the room

  • they should talk to their employer, friends and family to ask for their help to access the things they will need in order to successfully stay at home

  • if people visit with supplies or food or work items, these should be left outside the home for the self-isolated person to collect.

PHE emphasises: “Do not go into public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis. You cannot go for a walk”.

After the isolation period, if someone feels better and no longer has a high temperature, they can return to their normal routine even if the cough persists for longer.

PHE also stresses that people do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation.

“If your symptoms worsen during home isolation contact NHS 111 online,” it advises. “If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111 or 999 in an emergency.”

Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said that he “could not emphasise enough about washing hands”.

The NHS will alter its approach to testing for coronavirus, with only those in hospitals being formally examined, he went on.

“It is no longer necessary for us to identify every case and we will move from having testing mainly done in homes and outpatients and walk-in centres, to a situation where people who are remaining at home do not need testing,” Professor Whitty explained.

Last reviewed 17 March 2020