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What to do if you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

How to self-isolate, get an isolation note for work, and help your symptoms

Look after yourself and others by following this advice


Testing is available to people with and without symptoms. It can be done at home, or at one of the many coronavirus testing centres across Scotland.

If you have symptoms, you must self-isolate and book a PCR test.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The most common symptoms are new:

  • continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia)

A new continuous cough is where you:

  • have a new cough that’s lasted for an hour
  • have had 3 or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours
  • are coughing more than usual

A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back (you don’t need to measure your temperature). You may feel warm, cold or shivery.

Close contacts

You'll be sent a link to a secure online form so you can share who you've been in close contact with or any places you've been. The link to the form is unique to you. It’ll be sent to you through text or email.

You may get a phone call if you are linked to a higher risk setting, for instance health and social care.

Read further information about contact tracing

Read further information about close contacts

How to self-isolate

If you've tested positive for coronavirus, you must self-isolate.

Self-isolation means staying at home. You should avoid close contact with others by:

  • not having visitors
  • not using taxis or public transport
  • asking a friend or neighbour to get your shopping or arranging for a delivery to be left at your door
  • not sharing towels, clothes, toothbrushes or razors

You should also rearrange any vaccine or other appointments you have.

Read further information about self-isolation


If you are told to self-isolate by Test and Protect you may be eligible for a £500 Self-Isolation Support Grant. You need a positive PCR test result to apply for the grant. Book a PCR test

If you need support but cannot get this from friends or family, phone the National Assistance Helpline (0800 111 4000) or textphone (0800 111 4114). The helpline is open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

It's also important to look after your mental wellbeing during self-isolation.

Isolation note for work

You can send an isolation note to your employer as proof you need to stay off work because of coronavirus.

You do not need to get a note (sick line) from a GP.

Get an isolation note

What can I do to help my symptoms?


  • drink fluids like water to keep yourself hydrated – your urine (pee) should be a pale yellow or clear colour
  • 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
  • drink warm drinks to help ease your cough

Urgent advice: Phone 111 if:

  • your symptoms worsen during self-isolation, especially if you’re in a high or extremely high-risk group
  • breathlessness develops or worsens, particularly if you’re in a high or extremely high-risk group
  • you have symptoms that you can no longer manage at home

If you're worried about your child

If your child or baby has a cough, this can last longer than 7 days. If they have no other symptoms you do not need to get extra help.

If your child is alert and playing and behaving normally it's unlikely that they're seriously ill.

Immediate action required: Phone 999 if:

  • they’re short of breath whilst resting
  • their lips and tongue turn blue
  • their skin is ‘mottled’, pale or discoloured
  • they have a fit or convulsion
  • they become lethargic or difficult to wake up
  • they’re abnormally cold to touch

Do not delay in getting help if you’re worried.

Urgent advice: Phone 111 if:

  • they start breathing very fast
  • they’re very thirsty and peeing less than normal
  • they’re not feeding or eating (children younger than 5)
  • they keep vomiting
  • they start to get a very high temperature
  • their symptoms can no longer be managed at home

Rearrange your vaccine

If you've tested positive for coronavirus, even if you have no symptoms, you should wait until 4 weeks after the date you were tested to get the vaccine.

PCR testing within 90 days of a positive result

You should not book a PCR test if you've tested positive for coronavirus in the last 90 days, unless you develop new symptoms.

Read further information about repeat PCR testing

How long does coronavirus last?

You may still have a cough or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste for several weeks.

Most people's symptoms of coronavirus get better within 4 weeks.

However, some people may have ongoing symptoms. These can last for a few weeks or longer. This has been referred to as long COVID.

Read further information about the longer-term effects of coronavirus (long COVID)

Staying safe

There are things you can do to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.


  • wash your hands more often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use a hand sanitiser
  • wear a face covering where required
  • get the coronavirus vaccine when offered
  • meet others outdoors wherever possible and try to keep your distance
  • keep rooms well ventilated when meeting other households indoors, if possible consider opening windows or a door

You can also download the NHS Scotland COVID Status app or request a paper copy to show your COVID status (vaccine passport).


  • do not meet anyone with coronavirus symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia))
  • do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands

Read further information about protective measures