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Self isolating when you live in a flatshare

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This article was last updated at 9.30am on 17 July 2020.

The lockdown restrictions may have eased up, but if you – or one of your flatmates – shows symptoms of COVID-19, there are still rules to follow.

In a nutshell: if one flatmate shows symptoms (a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature), you should all stay at home – and not leave the house at all for 14 days. It’s really likely that those living together will infect each other or already be infected, so staying at home for this period will greatly reduce the amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community.

This also means you should all try to plan ahead and organise deliveries for any essentials you need (groceries etc), to avoid being around members of the public in a potentially busy grocery shop or supermarket. If any of you can’t currently work from home, speak to your employer and explain the situation – to see how they can help during this period. It might be useful to plan out the period you’ll be at home and find activities to keep you all busy (if you’re not ill) – it’s a good opportunity to take up a new language, watch films, read books or finesse your cooking skills.

What to do if you have a vulnerable person living with you

If one of your flatmates is considered to be vulnerable (i.e. has an underlying health condition), you should try to keep 2 metres away from this person where possible. If they can, they should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household, and use separate towels for both bathing and drying their hands. If you do share a bathroom, it should be cleaned after every use – ensuring you wipe down all surfaces you come into contact with. You could also try drawing up a rota for bathing, so the vulnerable person uses the facilities first.

Avoid using the kitchen if the vulnerable person is present – if possible they should try to take their meals back to their room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean crockery and cutlery – otherwise wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water, and dry them thoroughly. If the vulnerable person uses their own cooking and eating utensils, use a separate tea towel to dry them.

It can be really difficult to stay separate from someone you live with, but try to follow this guidance as closely as possible. It’s also essential for the whole household to wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and keep frequently touched surfaces clean.

Other things to note

If you or one of your flatmates has coronavirus symptoms:

  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
  • Don’t contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
  • You don’t need to be tested for coronavirus, as long as you’re staying at home

And don’t forget to keep washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds, keep your distance when you do have to go outside, and be extra careful if you share a home with a vulnerable person.

If you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, your condition worsens, or you don’t get better after 7 days – use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service, or call NHS 111 if you don’t have internet access.

Information in this article was taken from guidance for households.

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