Can you leave isolation if you still test positive? Rules on Covid quarantine after day 10 explained

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

Isolation rules differ across the UK, with Engand and Wales allowing people to end quarantine early with a negative Covid test

Record Covid-19 case numbers are being recorded in the UK as the Omicron variant continues to sweep across the country.

Scientists have warned that three quarters of people with new cold-like symptoms are likely to have coronavirus, and have called on the government to update its official symptoms list to help detect more cases.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
The self-isolation period starts immediately from the onset of symptoms or a positive test (Photo: Shutterstock)The self-isolation period starts immediately from the onset of symptoms or a positive test (Photo: Shutterstock)
The self-isolation period starts immediately from the onset of symptoms or a positive test (Photo: Shutterstock) | Shutterstock

The Omicron variant has been linked to slightly different symptoms to the ‘traditional three’ associated with other Covid-19 strains, with a scratchy throat, runny nose, fatigue and body aches and pains among the most common effects.

People are being encouraged to take a lateral flow test if they feel unwell or suspect they may have coronavirus symptoms, and to test themselves before meeting up with others.

If you do catch Covid-19, these are the isolation rules you need to follow, and what to do if you are still testing positive after the quarantine period ends.

How long do I need to isolate?

The self-isolation period starts immediately from the onset of symptoms, or from when a positive lateral flow or PCR test was taken if you do not have any symptoms, and the next 10 full days.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

If you get symptoms while you are self-isolating, the 10 days restarts from the day after your symptoms started.

These rules apply to everyone in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In England and Wales, self-isolation rules have recently been changed to allow people to end their quarantine after seven days.

Rules state that you can stop self-isolating after seven days providing you take a rapid lateral flow test on day six and seven of your self-isolation period and:

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
  • both of these tests are negative
  • the tests were take at least 24 hours apart
  • you do not have a high temperature

If you do a rapid lateral flow test on day six and the result is positive, you should wait 24 hours before you take the next test.

If this also comes back positive, it is advised that you remain in isolation for the full 10 days.

There is no change to the guidance for unvaccinated contacts of positive Covid-19 cases, who are still required to self-isolate for 10 full days after their date of exposure to the virus.

What happens if I still test positive after day 10?

You can stop isolating after 10 full dys if you no longer have any coronavirus symptoms, or if you just have a cough or changes to your sense of taste or smell.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

These symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

This means that even if you have a positive result, you are legally allowed to leave isolation after 10 full days, providing you meet the above criteria.

The only time you will need to continue isolating after 10 days is if you still have a high temperature or fever, or are feeling unwell.

In this case, it is advised that you continue isolating and seek medical advice.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The NHS offers a dedicated coronavirus helpline online for people who have questions or concerns, or you can call 119.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.