Do you have to self isolate? NHS Test and Trace self isolation explained – plus rules for double vaccinated

With Covid-19 restrictions fully lifted in England, this is what you need to know if you’re pinged by the NHS Test and Trace app

Questions around self isolation in England first cropped up when Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the subject of much public backlash after it was revealed that initially, he and Chancellor Rishi Sunak were not going to be self isolating after being in contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid who tested positive for Covid.

Originally, Johnson and Sunak planned to take daily tests rather than self-isolate following meetings with Javid - however, this decision was quickly reversed, with the two stating that they would indeed be self isolating.

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This is what you need to know if you’re pinged by NHS Test and Trace.

These are the rules you have to follow if you're pinged by NHS Test and Trace (Photo: Leon Neal/Daniel Leal-Olivas-WPA Pool/Getty Images)

What are the rules if you’ve been contacted by NHS Test and Trace?

If you’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or by the NHS Covid-19 app, you must:

- Self isolate immediately

- Not leave your home for any reason - if you need food or medicine, either order it online or by phone, or ask friends or family members to drop items off at your home

Who is exempt from self isolation? (Graphic: Mark Hall / JPI Media)

- Not have visitors in your home, unless for essential care

- Avoid contact with anyone you live with, as much as possible

Any people you live with, or any in your support bubble, do not need to self isolate if you don’t have symptoms.

The NHS says “your self-isolation period includes the day you were last in contact with the person who tested positive and the next full 10 days”.

How many people are being asked to self isolate? (Graphic: Mark Hall / JPIMedia)

It recommends that if you live with someone at higher risk of Covid-19 that you try to arrange alternative accommodation for them whilst you’re self isolating.

If you develop any symptoms of Covid-19, you should get a PCR test as soon as possible.

Symptoms to look out for are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

Anyone that you live with must self isolate if you’ve developed symptoms, and continue to do so until you’ve been tested and received your results.

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How do I get a PCR test?

You can arrange a free PCR test via the Government website.

Fill out the online form and a PCR test will be sent to your house.

If you have problems using the online service, you can order or book a test by calling 119. Lines open from 7am to 11pm.

What do I do after I’ve gotten my test results?

If you’ve received your test results and it has come back negative for Covid-19:

- You have to keep self isolating for the rest of the 10 days, as you may still get symptoms after being tested

- Anyone who you live with can stop self isolating if they do not have symptoms

However, if you test positive:

- The 10 days of self isolation restarts from the day your symptoms started, which means that you’ll have to self isolate for longer than 10 days overall

- Anyone you live with must self isolate for 10 days, counting from the day after your symptoms started

What if I don’t develop symptoms?

If you do not develop any symptoms of Covid whilst you’re isolating, you can stop isolating after the 10 days are up, and you do not need to take a test.

How will I be contacted?

If you’ve been in close contact with someone who has Covid and needs to self isolate, you might be contacted in a variety of ways, including:

- An email, text or phone call from NHS Test and Trace. Text messages will come from NHStracing and calls will come from 0300 0135 000

- An alert from the NHS Covid-19 app

Children under the age of 18 will be contacted by phone where possible, and asked for their parent or guardian’s permission to continue the call.

After you’ve been told to isolate, you’ll be asked to sign into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website.

If you cannot use the website, you’ll be called instead.

A number of NHS Test and Trace related scams have cropped up over the course of the pandemic, so it’s important to remember that the real NHS Test and Trace will not:

- Ask for bank details or payments

- Ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media

- Ask you to set up a password or PIN over the phone

- Ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those started with 09 or 087

Do I have to self isolate if I’m double vaccinated?

As it stands, you still have to follow the NHS self isolation rules if you are double vaccinated – however, this is set to change next month.

From 16 August 2021, if you are fully vaccinated against Covid and it has been two weeks since your second dose, or you are under 18, you will no longer need to self isolate if you have been identified as a close contact of someone with Covid-19.