How do I look after myself if I am sick with COVID-19?

December 22, 2020

This article has not been updated recently

Dr Chase Ng Peng Yun, a junior doctor, gives his advice about how to look after yourself and protect others in your household if you have COVID-19.

COVID-19 affects people in different ways, from mild or no symptoms to severe illness, so it can be hard to tell whether you have it or not. Read more about COVID-19 symptoms on this blog:  

Symptoms can appear between two and fourteen days after your body is exposed to the virus and current tests aren’t 100% sensitive, so you may have the virus even if you get a negative result. If you think you’ve been exposed or are coming down with COVID, here’s what you need to do:

Stay at home

Don’t go to work or school. If you must go out, avoid public places and public transport.

Monitor your symptoms

Keep an eye on your temperature with a thermometer and your blood oxygen levels using a pulse oximeter (oxygen probe) if you have them at home. Log your symptoms daily with the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app.

Stay rested and hydrated

Ensure that you get enough sleep and drink sufficient fluid to avoid dehydration.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

Try to cover all coughs and sneezes with tissue or the inside of your elbow to minimise the spread of droplets. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth until you wash your hands.

Keep your distance

Maintain 2 metres distance where possible, including from people in the same household and support bubble. Use your own bathroom if possible, and always wear a mask.

Wash your hands often

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based sanitiser (at least 60% alcohol) between activities.

Avoid sharing personal items

Personal belongings such as towels, beddings, clothings and dishes used by someone with COVID-19 should be separated from other members of the household.

Keep surfaces clean

COVID-19 virus can linger on surfaces for a long time. High-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, tabletops and counters should be wiped often with household cleaning sprays or disinfectant wipes. If you’re cleaning up for someone with COVID-19, wear a mask and disposable gloves and dispose of them in a lined rubbish bin afterwards.

When to get urgent medical help if you have COVID-19

Call NHS 111 if:

  • Your symptoms get worse, especially if you’re in a high or extremely high-risk group
  • Breathlessness develops or worsens, particularly if you’re in a high or extremely high-risk group
  • Your symptoms haven’t improved in 10 days
  • You’re unable to take care of yourself or others in your home, such as washing up, prepping meals or getting out of bed

Dial 999 if you or someone you live with has any of the following problems. Make sure you tell the medical team that you have or may have COVID-19:

  • Worsening shortness of breath, even at rest
  • Inability to finish a 5-word sentence in one breath
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest that makes it hard for you to breathe, move, speak or perform basic activities such as walking up the stairs
  • Confusion or drowsiness that reduces your ability to concentrate or perform simple tasks
  • Lips or face turning blue

We have a few other blogs that will help you and your loved ones stay safe:

Together we’ll get through this

COVID-19 is highly infectious and has already killed more than 80,000 people across the UK, with many more becoming seriously ill or suffering long term symptoms. It’s vital that we do all we can to stop the spread through our communities by spotting the symptoms early, self-isolating and getting tested. 

Download the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app and spend just one minute every day logging your health and any symptoms. Your information will help us understand this disease and track how it is spreading across the UK, helping to keep everyone safe.

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