Cold and flu symptoms: Should you self isolate if you have a cold?

England’s chief medical officer has said those with minor illnesses could be asked to self-isolate within the next two weeks. Your tickly throat and running nose could be a cause for concern in the future, but what should you be doing now? What is the advice for people with cold and flu symptoms?

Do I need to self-isolate if I have cold/flu symptoms?

At present, there is no need to self-isolate if you have a cold or the flu.

Within the next two weeks, though, the smallest cough or sneeze could mean you will be forced to self-isolate at home.

England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said on Monday March 9: “We will be having to ask members of the general public to do different things than they would normally do”.

Whitty said this means “a situation where we say everybody who has even minor respiratory tract infections or a fever should be self-isolating for seven days afterwards”.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for a “national effort” to tackle the virus, and reassured the nation explaining that Britain is moving into the delay phase of tackling the virus.

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  • Coronavirus symptoms: How long do symptoms take to show up?

How do I know if my cold or flu is coronavirus?

According to the NHS, and the World Health Organisation, the most common symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath

You may also experience subtle aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea.

Some people develop all of the symptoms, but others only show a few.

The main difference between coronavirus symptoms and cold and flu symptoms is that coronavirus symptoms come on much slower.

With a cold, you will feel yourself getting better within a few days, but with a flu you’ll be stuck in bed for a week or longer.

Coronavirus can take much longer to recover from.

How can I protect myself?

If you’ve recently been abroad to a significantly affected area in the last two weeks or have been in contact who has and feels unwell, ring NHS 111 for advice.

The virus is spread through droplets, so much of the advice given to prevent catching the virus is hygeine based.

The recommendations are to:

Wash your hands with soap and water for 30 seconds, frequently

Carry a hand sanitiser with you and use it often

Always wash your hands before you eat

Be especially careful in busy airports and other public transport systems

Sneeze or cough into a tissue and immediately bin it

Avoid shaking hands or cheek kissing if you suspect viruses are circulating

Always clean items you touch regularly a few times a day, e.g. mobile phone, key board, mouse.

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