Should I self isolate if I have a cold? New guidance explained

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New Government guidance is urging people with colds and other illnesses with similar symptoms to stay at home and avoid spreading it to others. The advice forms part of the Government’s Living with Covid plans in England, which has eliminated free testing for most people and ended all legal restrictions after two years.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: “Thanks to our plan to tackle Covid we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus.

“We have made enormous progress but will keep the ability to respond to future threats including potential variants.

“Vaccines remain our best defence and we are now offering spring boosters to the elderly, care home residents and the most vulnerable – please come forward to protect yourself, your family and your community.”

The news comes despite the legal requirement to self-isolate after a positive Covid-19 test in England ended on February 24.

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Do I need to self isolate if I have a cold?

There is no legal requirement to stay at home if you have any symptoms of a cold or other common illness – it is just guidance from the Government.

The guidance, updated on April 1, from GOV.UK reads: “UKHSA guidance sets out that people with symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, and who have a high temperature or do not feel well, should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others.

“Those who are asked – or choose to test – and get a positive COVID-19 result should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days following the day of their positive result.”

You should remain at home and avoid other people, if possible, if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • a continuous cough
  • high temperature, fever or chills
  • loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
  • shortness of breath
  • unexplained tiredness, lack of energy
  • muscle aches or pains that are not due to exercise
  • not wanting to eat or not feeling hungry
  • headache that is unusual or longer-lasting than usual
  • sore throat, stuffy or runny nose
  • diarrhoea, feeling sick or being sick

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It continues: “It is particularly important that a person with symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, avoids close contact with people whose immune system means that they are at higher risk of serious illness.

“If a person has tested positive for COVID-19 they should avoid those people who are at higher risk of serious illness for a 10-day period.”

The Government advises that if you do need to leave home, you should avoid crowded spaces and wear a well-fitting mask or other face covering.

The guidance is slightly different for school-aged children and some adult groups.

Children who test positive for coronavirus still need to remain off school for three days.

Adults should also not go to their workplace for five days after a positive test.

However, free testing has now ended for most people, with lateral flow tests now only available via purchasing from high street stores like Boots or from online vendors.

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