Many other people may be asked to isolate themselves to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the UK, the NHS warned. But what should you do if you are at risk?
More than 80 people who spent two weeks in quarantine were hailed as an “important example” by NHS England CEO Sir Simon Stevens, as he said it was possible to ask people to isolate themselves more and more.
There is no official data on the number of people recommended to isolate themselves, but the approach is considered a crucial way to minimize the spread of the virus.
But what does self-isolation mean and how do you make sure it works?
Who should be isolated?
You only need to isolate yourself if required by Public Health England (PHE) or the Department of Health and Social Care.
They are monitoring people who have been in “close and sustained” contact with confirmed people who have the virus: a significant risk is believed to be spending 15 minutes two meters from an infected person.
The exception is if you have traveled to China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the past 14 days and are experiencing symptoms such as coughing, fever or shortness of breath.
In these cases, do not go to the family doctor or hospital.
Instead, stay inside and call NHS 111, even if your symptoms are mild. (In parts of Wales where 111 is unavailable, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 and in Northern Ireland you should call your family doctor.)
What should you do when you’re in solitary confinement?
PHE’s advice is to take “common sense” measures to avoid close contact with other people as much as possible, just as you would if you had the flu.
This means staying home for 14 days and not going to work, school or other public places.
Stay away from shops: ask for a delivery or ask a friend for help
You should be in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened, separate from other people in the house.
Get help if you need groceries, other purchases, or medications – it’s okay for friends, family, or delivery drivers to deliver supplies for the two weeks.
But you shouldn’t invite visitors, says PHE.
What happens if you live with someone who isolates himself?
Although you may not be able to separate yourself from your family or roommates, the advice is to limit contacts as much as possible.
The advice given to people living with potential coronavirus patients recommends washing hands frequently, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in contact with the patient or something they have managed.
He says he shouldn’t share household items with someone isolated and, if possible, should have a separate bathroom and toilet.
The board also says to clean household surfaces daily, using disposable gloves if you have them. The waste that has been in contact with the isolated person must be placed in a plastic garbage bag and tied, then tied in a second bag.
Do you still get paid if you can’t go to work?
You may be asked to isolate yourself, even if you only have mild symptoms. But you still have to get paid, like you’re too sick to work.
“If a doctor asks you to isolate yourself, then you should receive sick pay, although some unscrupulous employers may try to evade the payment,” says a United union spokesman.
But the union warns that some workers in the informal and labor economy may not have a sickness scheme in their contract. An Uber driver found that his account was suspended after taking a coronavirus patient to the hospital, although Uber claims to “support” the driver.
What do people say they’ve been isolated?
A nurse who isolated herself after coming into direct contact with a patient at risk said she had long delays in being told what to do after contacting the SSN 111.
And he said it was painful to be isolated from his loved ones.
“When I got home, my family had packed up and left. I have kids, and they were understandably angry because they had to leave,” Argus told Brighton.