Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and self-isolation changed on 1 May 2022.

Individuals mid-way through a self-isolation period should follow the revised guidance from 1 May.

If you've tested positive you should follow the revised guidance to stay at home for 3 days if you're 18 years and under, or for 5 days if you're over 18 years. The way that we count these days has changed. Day 1 is the day after you took your test.

If you were identified as a close contact, you should end daily LFD testing on 1 May. You may leave self-isolation if you feel well. If you later develop a temperature or feel unwell with respiratory symptoms, you should follow the revised guidance to stay at home.

From 1 May, most people no longer need to take a coronavirus test and should follow guidance on staying at home if unwell.

Testing remains available to specific groups in order to protect highest risk settings and support clinical care.

Coronavirus, and other respiratory infections such as flu, can spread easily and cause serious illness in some people. Vaccinations are very effective at preventing serious illness from coronavirus. But there's still a chance you might catch coronavirus, or another respiratory infection, and pass it on to other people.

Symptoms

Stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection such as coronavirus and have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities.

Symptoms of coronavirus, flu and common respiratory infections include:

  • 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's unusual or longer lasting than usual
  • sore throat, stuffy or runny nose
  • diarrhoea
  • feeling sick or being sick

How to help your symptoms

Do

  • drink fluids like water to keep yourself hydrated
  • get plenty of rest
  • wear loose, comfortable clothing – don’t try to make yourself too cold
  • take over-the-counter medications like paracetamol – always follow the manufacturer’s instructions

Antibiotics are not recommended for viral respiratory infections. They'll not relieve your symptoms or speed up your recovery.

You might continue to have a cough or feel tired after your other symptoms have improved. This does not mean that you're still infectious.

Urgent advice: Speak to your GP if:

  • your symptoms worsen
  • you're concerned about your symptoms
  • you have symptoms that you can no longer manage at home

If your GP is closed, phone 111. In an emergency phone 999.

People at higher risk of becoming seriously unwell from a respiratory infection, including coronavirus

People who are at higher risk from coronavirus and other respiratory infections include:

Read guidance for people who have been informed by the NHS that they're at highest risk

The risk of becoming seriously unwell from coronavirus and other respiratory infections is very low for most children and young people.

Some children aged under 2 years, especially those with a heart condition or born prematurely, are at increased risk of hospitalisation from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

What to do if you have symptoms and have not taken a coronavirus test

Stay at home and avoid contact with other people

Stay at home and avoid contact with other people if you have symptoms of a respiratory infection such as coronavirus and have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities.

Do this until you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one) or until you feel better.

Work from home if you can. If you can't work from home, talk to your employer about your options.

Avoid close contact with anyone who is at higher risk, especially individuals with a weakened immune system.

If you've been asked to attend a medical or dental appointment in person, tell them about your symptoms.

You may wish to ask friends, family or neighbours to get food and other essentials for you.

You should tell people you have recently been in contact with that you're feeling unwell. This means they can be aware of signs or symptoms.

Children and young people aged 18 and under

Respiratory infections are common in children and young people, particularly during the winter months. Symptoms can be caused by several respiratory infections including the common cold, coronavirus and RSV.

For most children and young people, these illnesses will not be serious. They'll soon recover following rest and plenty of fluids.

Very few children and young people with respiratory infections become seriously unwell. This is also true for children and young people with long-term conditions. Some children under 2, especially those born prematurely or with a heart condition, can become more seriously unwell from RSV.

When to stay at home

Children and young people with mild symptoms who are otherwise well, can continue to attend their education setting. Mild symptoms include a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough.

Children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, where they can. They can go back to school, college or childcare, and resume normal activities when they no longer have a high temperature and they're well enough to attend.

All children and young people with respiratory symptoms should be encouraged to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when coughing and/or sneezing. They should wash their hands after using or disposing of tissues.

If you're worried about your child, especially if they're under 2 years, seek medical help.

If you leave your home

If you leave your home while you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, and you have a high temperature or feel unwell, avoid close contact with anyone who is at higher risk, especially individuals with a weakened immune system.

You can reduce the chance of passing on your infection by:

  • wearing a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask
  • avoiding crowded places such as public transport, large social gatherings, or anywhere that is enclosed or poorly ventilated
  • exercising outdoors in places where you will not have close contact with other people
  • covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • washing your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or using hand sanitiser after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, and before you eat or handle food
  • avoiding touching your face
How to reduce the spread of infection in your household

While you're unwell there's a high risk of passing your infection to others in your household. There are things you can do to help prevent the spread:

  • keep your distance from people you live with
  • in shared areas wear a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask, especially if you live with someone with a weakened immune system
  • ventilate rooms you have been in by opening windows and leaving them open for at least 10 minutes after you have left the room
  • wash your hands regularly and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • regularly clean frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and remote controls, and shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms

Tell anyone that does need to come into your home that you have symptoms so they can protect themselves. For example, by wearing a well-fitting face covering or a surgical face mask, keeping their distance if they can, and washing their hands regularly.

What to do if you have a positive coronavirus test result

Most people in Scotland no longer need to test for coronavirus.

You can still access testing if:

An unpaid carer is someone providing face-to-face care to someone due to a disability, long-term health condition or old age

If you're a health and social care worker, you should access testing through your organisation.

If you're going into hospital, you should access testing through that service.

Anyone else who is eligible for testing can order tests online or by phoning 119.

Stay at home and avoid contact with other people

If you have a positive coronavirus test result, it's very likely that you have coronavirus even if you do not have symptoms. This means you can pass on the infection.

Many people with coronavirus will no longer be infectious after 5 days. If you have a positive coronavirus test result, stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 5 days after the day you took your test, or from the day your symptoms started (whichever was earlier).

The start date for counting days after a positive test has changed. If you test positive you should now count the day after you took the test as day 1 of the days you should stay at home.

You should let everyone in your household know about your positive coronavirus test result. Coronavirus is infectious for up to 2 days before you begin to feel unwell, or the date of your test, so you should tell anyone you had close contact with during this time. This means they can be aware of signs or symptoms.

Work from home if you can. If you can't work from home, talk to your employer about your options.

If you've been asked to attend a medical or dental appointment in person, let them know about your positive test result.

You may wish to ask friends, family or neighbours to get food and other essentials for you.

Follow this advice until you feel well enough to resume normal activities and you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one).

Although many people will no longer be infectious to others after 5 days, some people may be infectious to other people for up to 10 days from the start of their infection.

You should avoid meeting with anyone who's at higher risk, especially individuals with a weakened immune system, for 10 days after the day you took your test.

Children and young people aged 18 and under

It's not recommended that children and young people are tested for coronavirus unless advised to by a healthcare professional.

If a child or young person has a positive coronavirus test result, they should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for 3 days after the day they took the test or from the day their symptoms started (whichever was earliest), if they can.

After 3 days, if they feel well and do not have a high temperature, the risk of passing the infection on to others is much lower. This is because children and young people tend to be infectious to other people for less time than adults.

Children and young people who usually go to school, college or childcare and who live with someone who has a positive coronavirus test result should continue to attend as normal.

If you leave your home

If you leave your home during the 5 days after your positive test result, you can reduce the chance of passing on your infection by:

  • wearing a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask
  • avoiding crowded places such as public transport, large social gatherings, or anywhere that is enclosed or poorly ventilated
  • exercising outdoors in places where you will not have close contact with other people
  • covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • washing your hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, and before you eat or handle food
  • avoiding touching your face
How to reduce the spread of infection in your household

While you're infectious there's a high risk of passing your infection to others in your household. There are things you can do to help prevent the spread:

  • keep your distance from people you live with
  • in shared areas wear a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask, especially if you live with someone with a weakened immune system
  • ventilate rooms you have been in by opening windows and leaving them open for at least 10 minutes after you have left the room
  • wash your hands regularly and cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • regularly clean frequently touched surfaces, like door handles and remote controls, and shared areas such as kitchens and bathrooms

Tell anyone that does need to come into your home that you've tested positive so they can protect themselves. For example, by wearing a well-fitting face covering or a surgical face mask, keeping their distance if they can, and washing their hands regularly.

What to do if you're a close contact

People who live in the same household as someone with coronavirus are at the highest risk of becoming infected because they're most likely to have prolonged close contact. People who stayed overnight in the household of someone with coronavirus while they were infectious are also at high risk.

If you're a household or overnight contact, it can take up to 10 days for your infection to develop. It's possible to pass on coronavirus to others, even if you have no symptoms.

How to reduce the risk to other people

You can reduce the risk to other people by:

  • avoiding contact with anyone you know who is at higher risk, especially individuals with a weakened immune system
  • limiting close contact with other people outside your household, especially in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces
  • wearing a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask if you do need to have close contact with other people, or you're in a crowded place
  • washing your hands regularly with soap and water or using hand sanitiser

If you develop symptoms of a respiratory infection, stay at home and avoid contact with other people. Follow the guidance for people with symptoms.

If you're a contact of someone with coronavirus but do not live with them or did not stay in their household overnight, you're at lower risk of becoming infected.

Further support

Testing helpline

If you're eligible for free NHS tests and you cannot place an order online, phone 119. The helpline is free from mobiles and landlines. It's open every day from 7am to 11pm. They have a translation service. SignVideo (a free online British Sign Language interpreter service) is also available.

Self-isolation grant

Support is available if you're a low-income worker and need financial support to isolate or stay at home as advised.

Read about the self-isolation support grant

Coronavirus helpline

If you have any questions about coronavirus that you can't answer online, you can phone 0800 028 2816. You can also ask the webchat team. The helpline is open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Last updated:
06 May 2022