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What Should You Do if Your Housemate Has Coronavirus?

6 October 2020 Simon Banks Read time: 3 min
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Simon Banks

We've all been taking the necessary procedures to limit the spread of Covid-19 since the coronavirus pandemic became a thing in early March. The washing of hands, social distancing and working from home where possible have all been regular features in our lives.

Sometimes, however, it’s not as simple as simply watching out for yourself, especially if you live in a house share. More people living in a home increases the chance of someone catching Covid, but what do you do if one of your housemates comes down with a bout or corona?

Should you self-isolate too? Do you live on the other side of the home for the next two weeks? There’s a lot of questions and, understandably, quite a lot of confusion. So we’ve put this guide together that tells you everything you need to know about living in a home where someone else has coronavirus.

Staying up to date with official advice

Covid-19 is a new virus, which means advice about it changes regularly. Therefore, you should keep up with official guidance that is regularly updated on government and NHS websites – especially when it relates to self-isolation.

Tip 1: Assume your housemate has Covid

One of the trickiest aspects of coronavirus is knowing when someone actually has it. With so many symptoms, ranging from a continuous cough and high fever to loss of smell, it can be hard determining whether symptoms are Covid-related or something else.

Housemate wearing a mask at home

Fortunately, there is more access to testing than there was in the spring, but if someone in your household develops symptoms, it’s best to assume that they have the virus until tests can prove otherwise.

Ask them to call 111 or their local GP (you can do it for them if they’re feeling too unwell). After the call, they will have a clearer idea about whether or not they should get tested. At this point, you should try your best to maintain a distance of six-feet and both wear a mask when in contact with each other.

Tip 2: Self isolate if they test positive

Everyone in the household will need to self isolate if the test comes back positive. This will help limit the spread, which means staying indoors for 14 days. During this time, you should still try and keep a distance from your housemate who tested positive.

Work out a schedule that sees them using communal areas at different times from the rest of the household. If you need to be in the same room together, everyone should wear masks and keep six feet apart. Both yourself and covid-positive housemate should wipe down all surfaces after coming into touch with them, while it’s important that you also wash your hands regularly.

self isolating teddy

In a nutshell, you should…

  • Maintain six-feet apart where possible
  • Wear masks when in contact with each other
  • Wipe down all surfaces with soap and disinfectant
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and hot water

Tip 3: Be there for them emotionally

Getting a positive result won’t be a nice feeling, especially if your housemate is the only one in the household who has contracted the virus. They will also potentially feel guilty, as they have brought Covid into the home. Then, of course, there are the symptoms if they are unwell.

Therefore, you should support them both emotionally and physically, where possible. Check-in on them regularly, even if it’s by phone or text, as continued communication will help keep their spirits up. If they’re feeling unwell, you should also do your part, such leaving food and medicine outside their door.

Tip 4: Pick a “sick room” for isolation

The Covid-positive housemate should ideally stick to one room, only leaving if they need a bathroom (even better if they have an ensuite). You and other housemates should avoid going into the room unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Self-isolation bathroom

If there are multiple bathrooms, try picking one as the “sick” bathroom. This will help limit the virus spreading around the home. However, if there’s only one bathroom, you will need to wipe it down extensively after the Covid-positive housemate has used it.

Tip 5: Separate laundry

If someone has Covid, it’s vital that you separate their stuff from everyone else’s. That includes clothing. If you have laundry in their room, get it out as soon as possible and ensure that everything is separate.

Give your housemate a basket where they can store their towels, bedding, washcloths and clothes. Then wash their stuff separately from other house members' and use a mask when you go to collect their clothes.

Tip 6: Don’t have visitors

Having to isolate for two weeks can be frustrating, especially if you don’t have the virus. But you need to be strict with yourself and others in the house. That means not entertaining visitors while your housemate is Covid-positive.

Coronavirus quarantine note on a door

Whether it’s friends or people coming for repairs, it’s best to put everything on hold for 14 days. If you need to see someone in person, do it from your front door wearing a mask and maintaining a distance of six feet.

Tip 7: Wait for the all clear

You will need to wait until your housemate is Covid clear before venturing back outside. This typically happens after two weeks or when they are fever free and haven't relied on medication for three days, according to the guidelines.

At this point you can start to go back to normal in your household as long as no one else has developed symptoms. You can also stop isolating and head back outside again.

Staying safe in your home

Finding out that you or someone you share the home with has the coronavirus can be concerning. But if you all follow the procedures and support each other mentally, there’s no reason why everyone can’t get through the situation. If you’re rational, stay safe and quarantine for two weeks (or until the fever’s gone), you can all head back out into the world and resume the new normal.

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