What To Do if Your Flatmate Has Coronavirus

What should you do if your flatmate has coronavirus or is self-isolating? First things first, try not to panic. If their case is confirmed, you should seek advice from the NHS Coronavirus phone service on 111 on what to do next and consider suitable alternative accommodation for a few weeks.

If you live with someone who is self-isolating, though doesn’t necessarily have the virus, it is important to still call the phone service for advice. With any airborne virus, there is a chance you might catch it in any place at any time, so good hygiene practice is crucial along with other measures that can help to reduce the risk at home, at work, and beyond. 

While there’s scarce information in the media at the moment on living with someone in self-isolation, we’ve gathered all the facts and tips we can find in one handy guide that we will seek to update regularly as government advice emerges. If you’re in direct contact with your flatmate and suspect you might have coronavirus, call the 111 coronavirus helpline via the NHS for more information. 

Basic Hygiene 

Government advice is to:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly at least every hour with hot water and soap for a minimum of twenty seconds. 
  • Use antibacterial gel when you can’t get near a sink.
  • When coughing or sneezing, catch this within a tissue and dispose of it immediately. If you have no tissue to hand, coughing and sneezing into your elbow is next best. Wash hands thoroughly afterwards. 
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Direct Contact

Official advice encourages that you ought to minimise direct contact with any self-isolating person – direct contact is constituted as within 2 metres of person for more than 15 minutes. 

Sharing the Bathroom

Current advice at the time of publication has outlined that any self-isolating person ought to have their own bathroom for their sole use. If this isn’t possible, it is advised to use the bathroom ahead of the infected person in the mornings, ensuring that they thoroughly disinfect key surfaces thereafter – door handles, taps, shower head, toilet flush, light switch – using a good anti-bacterial spray or germ killer and paper, like thick kitchen roll, that can be disposed of. Where possible, ensure good ventilation via an open window or extractor fan. Avoid sharing towels and consider keeping your toiletries in your bedroom to minimise shared surface contact. 

Sharing the Kitchen 

Keep meal times simple and minimise time spent in shared areas. Now is a good time to up antiviral food and beverages such as garlic, ginger, echinacea, common kitchen herbs and plenty of green tea. As with the bathroom, ensure handles of appliances and counter surfaces are kept clean and consider allocating specific cutlery that each person can be responsible for cleaning and using during this period. Advice also indicates that you should eat meals in your room rather than shared areas. Wash and change tea towels frequently, or use disposable kitchen roll for drying hands. 


Well, what an excuse for a takeaway! Many delivery services, including groceries, are offering to leave orders at the door to minimise person-to-person contact and helps you to avoid heading to crowded supermarkets. 

Disposing of Waste 

It is important to refer to official government information via the NHS helpline regarding the disposal of waste though if you are unsure in the meantime, double bag all waste until you have more details on how to dispose of this safely. 


Should visitors need to stop by, you can place antibacterial gel in common areas to ensure clean hands, though it is advised that they avoid entering the flat entirely and leave anything they need to on the doorstep. 

Be Kind 

Wow, imagine how your flatmate must be feeling during self-isolation. In the spirit of comradeship, there are a few things you could consider to support and cheer them at this time, including:

  • Building a mutual spotify playlist of excellent tunes.
  • Buy them a separate kettle to keep in their room for plenty of tea.
  • Recommending good films and books. 
  • Leaving surprise chocolate and gifts in their doorway. 
  • Creating a what’s app group for if they need anything like food, meds, or just someone to spam to with cat videos.

Useful URLS

For up-to-date information, try to rely on NHS and government websites for official information, rather than social networks, as they will have correct facts that are regularly updated. 

Latest information and advice:  

Our government’s Coronavirus action plan:

Our government’s Coronavirus action plan:

Your common questions on Coronavirus answered by the NHS: