It isn’t clear how long immunity to Covid-19 lasts, but in mid-October a Dutch woman became the first reported person to die from the virus after being reinfected with it.

There are now several known cases of reinfection around the world, and though there’s no definitive answer to how long immunity to the virus lasts, the latest estimation from scientists is that it may only be a few months.

So, what are the rules around self-isolation if you’ve been infected?

Do you need to self-isolate if you’ve already had Covid?

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If you’ve already had coronavirus and have recovered from it, you still have to self-isolate if you later come into contact with somebody who is carrying the virus.



That’s because your body can still harbour the virus and pass it on to other people, even if you have the coronavirus-neutralising antibodies that can protect you from getting sick.

A study conducted by researchers at Imperial College London found a decline in protective antibodies against the disease, with just 4.4% of adults having some kind of immunity against Covid-19 in September, compared with 6% found to have antibodies between June 20 and July 13, and 4.8% between July 31 and August 31.

If someone you’ve been in contact with tests positive, you must self-isolate at home for at least 14 days from the date of your last contact with them, even if you feel healthy and aren’t experiencing any of the symptoms of Covid-19.

Self-isolation means staying at home. You cannot go to work, school, or public areas, you’re not allowed to use public transport or taxis, and you can’t leave the house to buy food, medication or other essentials, or even to exercise.

You should ask friends or relatives for help buying any essentials or use an online or over-the-phone delivery service. However, any deliveries must be left outside your door for you to collect, in order to minimise the risk of passing the virus on.

You should not arrange for a coronavirus test unless you develop symptoms of the virus. These include a new continuous cough, a high temperature, and a loss or change of your sense of smell or taste.

What counts as contact with somebody with coronavirus?

The Government defines a contact as a person who has physically interacted or been near someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 ‘anytime from two days before the person was symptomatic up to 10 days from onset of symptoms’.

A high proportion of people with coronavirus are asymptomatic, and people can become infectious up to two days before symptoms first appear.

Other people living with you do not need to self-isolate with you if you aren’t displaying symptoms of the virus, though you should take extra care to keep your distance wherever possible.

You should also wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser, and cover all coughs and sneezes. If you do start experiencing symptoms, you should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started if you live alone.



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