Some people are being asked to isolate themselves to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
So, what do you need to know about self-isolation and how to do it?
Do I need to self-isolate?
You may need to isolate yourself if you have travelled to an affected area, or have been in close contact with an infected person.
Travellers returning from many parts of Asia where the virus is prevalent and Italy north of Pisa – you can find a full list of countries here – are only being asked to self-isolate and get tested if they feel symptoms. These include a cough, fever or shortness of breath.
Don’t go to the GP or hospital – stay indoors and call NHS 111, even if your symptoms are mild. (In parts of Wales where 111 isn’t available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47, and in Northern Ireland you should call your GP.)
Other people returning from some virus hotspots are being asked to isolate themselves and call 111 – even if they have no symptoms.
That applies if you’ve returned from Iran, the towns in northern Italy under quarantine or the “special care zones” in South Korea since 19 February – or from Hubei province in China in the last 14 days.
People should also self-isolate if they have been in “close and sustained” contact with individuals with the virus. Spending 15 minutes within two metres (6ft) of an infected person is judged to be a significant risk.
What should I do in self-isolation?
People needing to self-isolate should take “common-sense” steps to avoid close contact with other people, says Public Health England.
That means staying at home for 14 days, not going to work, school or other public places, and avoiding public transport or taxis.
You should stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened and remain separate from other people in your home.
Ask for help if you need groceries, other shopping or medication. It’s OK to have friends, family or delivery drivers drop off supplies to get you through the two weeks.
But you shouldn’t have any visitors, PHE says. You can have deliveries left on the doorstep.
If you share a kitchen with others, try to avoid using it when other people are there and take your meals back to your room to eat.
You should even try to stay away from your pets – if that isn’t possible, wash your hands before and after touching them.
Will I still get paid?
Workers told to self-isolate by NHS 111 or public health authorities are entitled to take the time as sick leave, the government has said.
Along with permanent staff, many casual or agency workers may be entitled to sick pay, but self-employed people are not. Citizens Advice says people on zero-hours contracts can still get sick pay and should ask their employer.
However, if you’re not ill and don’t have symptoms during your self-isolation, employment law experts say there’s no automatic right to sick pay.
You can claim universal credit if you’re prevented from working because of a risk to public health.
If you need to care for a relative, or your child’s school is closed and you need to look after them at short notice, your employer must give you time off.
You probably won’t get paid for it, unless it says so in your contract – but you may be able to work from home.
What if I live with someone who is self-isolating?
Although you might not be able to entirely separate yourself from family members or flatmates, the advice is to limit contact as much as possible.
You should wash your hands often, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially after coming into contact with the patient or something that they have handled.
You shouldn’t share towels, toiletries or other household items with someone in isolation and they should have a separate bathroom and toilet.
If that is not possible, the isolated person should use the bathroom last, cleaning it thoroughly afterwards if they are able.
Any rubbish that the isolated person has been in contact with should be double-bagged. Don’t throw these bags away until you know whether or not the isolated person has the virus.
If the person tests positive, you will be told what to do with their waste.