What to do if your housemate has coronavirus

We all understand the importance of trying to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

But what do you do when someone in your own household comes down with it?

If you’re living in a shared flat, you need to be prepared and know what to do if someone you live with starts displaying symptoms.

It can be stressful if you share a house with other renters, particularly if you aren’t close, but you must come together and follow the rules.

The most important thing is to stay up to date with NHS and government advice around isolation periods and what you need to do, as these can change.

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But there are things you can do to try to stop the spread within your own household.

Of course, there are still no guarantees that you will avoid the virus, even if you follow all the guidelines but it can reduce the risk.

Aidan Rushby, CEO of Movebubble, knows a thing or two about dealing with housemates and he has some tips about what to do if one of yours has the virus.

If anyone feels unwell 

Many of the symptoms of coronavirus are similar to the ones you would get with a cold or flu, but there are things specifically to look out for – a continuous cough, a high fever and a loss of taste or smell.

However, many people experience very mild symptoms but can still pass the virus on so if someone you live with experiences any of the signs, it’s important to treat it like it is coronavirus, until you know different.

Aidan explains: ‘It can be hard to determine if symptoms are Covid-related or something else – especially with winter fast approaching. 

‘As a first step, ask them to call 111 or their local GP (which you can do on their behalf 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.’

While waiting on a test result, the household should isolate in case it does come back positive.

After they’ve had a test

If they have a test and it comes back as positive, everyone in the household will be required to isolate for 14 days. This means you cannot go out, even to the shop or for exercise. You should order food online or get someone to bring it for you and you should not go to work.

You should not have any visitors to the house and if someone is dropping something off, they should leave it on the doorstep and step back at least two metres.

While you yourself may not have coronavirus, it can take up to 14 days for it to develop.

During this time, you need to do everything you can to avoid catching it.

Aidan explains: ‘You should still try and keep a distance from your housemate who tested positive. It’s advisable to 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 your covid-positive housemate should wipe down all surfaces with disinfectant after coming into contact with them. It’s also incredibly important to continue washing your hands regularly.’

Choose a sick room

It’s best to choose one room where they can stay to avoid contact with others in the household – probably their bedroom.

Other housemates should not go into the room unless absolutely necessary.

If you have more than one bathroom in the house, designate one for them to use and another for everyone else. If you only have one, you will need to clean it every time they use it.

Try to avoid them using the kitchen or other communal areas – if they need something to eat or drink, it is better for you to make it for them and leave it outside their door for them to pick up when you step away. They may also be feeling too unwell to do those things for themselves so be kind and step in.

Separate laundry

Try to avoid your belongings mixing so don’t share a laundry basket. If they really need new towels, bedding or clothing, you can do a wash for them.

Ask them to leave the basket outside the door. Wash the clothes separately, wearing a mask and using gloves.

Once you have put the clothes in the washing machine, wash your hands and all the surfaces.

Emotional support

While you might be focused on protecting yourself, it’s important to remember that your housemate who had tested positive may be feeling scared and even more isolated. They may also feel guilt for bringing it into the household.

You can offer support without being physically close to them – phone or text them, even though they are in the next room and check-in to see how they are feeling.

Wait it out

Even if your housemate starts to feel better, it’s important you continue to isolate for 14 days.

If you or someone else in your household starts to develop symptoms, you will need to get a test and isolate yourself for a further 10 days.

Once the two weeks are up, if no one else has developed symptoms, you are able to leave.

Aidan adds: ‘Finding out that you, or someone you share the home with, has contracted coronavirus can be very 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, you can all head back out into the world and resume the new normal.’

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