Coronavirus and self-isolation after testing positive in England: 12 April to 16 April 2021

Behaviour of individuals required to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19, from the COVID Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey. Includes information on the impact of self-isolation on well-being and finances. Experimental Statistics.

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Cyswllt:
Email Anna Fok

Dyddiad y datganiad:
4 May 2021

Cyhoeddiad nesaf:
To be announced

1. Main points

  • The data collected between 12 and 16 April 2021 show that the majority (84%) of those required to self-isolate reported fully adhering to the requirements throughout their self-isolation period.

  • Non-adherent behaviour was most likely to take place in the period between the onset of symptoms (prompting a test) and receiving a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test result.

  • Adherence between the onset of symptoms and receiving a positive test result was 84%; once a positive test result was received, reported adherence was statistically significantly higher in the first 24 hours after (98%) and the remainder of the isolation period (94%).

  • The majority (84%) of those who tested positive for COVID-19 reported having no contact with non-household members while they had any symptoms of illness or during the self-isolation period.

  • Over a third (37%) of those who tested positive reported that self-isolation had a negative effect on their well-being and mental health.

  • Approximately 1 in 4 people (27%) reported having lost income because of self-isolation.

  • The COVID Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey was compiled in response to policy questions on the level of adherence to the requirement to self-isolate among those who received a positive test result, and the impact this had on their well-being and work situation.

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The statistics presented are Experimental Statistics, so care needs to be taken when interpreting them. The survey has a relatively small number of respondents (1,168) and the behaviour of respondents during self-isolation is self-reported. 

Statistician's comment

"It is encouraging to see the majority of those who tested positive for coronavirus reported fully adhering to requirements designed to protect them and others from further spread of COVID-19.

“Self-isolation has put considerable strain on some people; over a third reported a negative impact of their well-being and mental health and approximately a quarter reported a loss of income.

“We will continue to monitor the behaviours of those required to self-isolate as wider lockdown restrictions are eased."

Tim Gibbs, Head of the Public Services Analysis Team, Office for National Statistics

Follow the Public Services Analysis team on Twitter: @HughStick

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2. Indicators of behaviour and experience during self-isolation

In September 2020, a new legal duty was introduced in England, requiring people to self-isolate for 10 days if they tested positive for the coronavirus (COVID-19). See Glossary for more information on self-isolation.

The data presented in this bulletin were collected from individuals who had tested positive for COVID-19 and had recently reached or were nearing the end of their self-isolation period. These data were collected between 12 and 16 April 2021, during a period in which national lockdown restrictions were easing. More information on identifying this group of people, lockdown and collecting the data can be found in the Glossary and Measuring the data sections.

The data collected between 12 and 16 April 2021 show that the majority (84%) of those required to self-isolate reported fully adhering to requirements throughout the whole of their self-isolation period. A minority of people (15%) reported at least one activity during self-isolation that was not adherent to the requirements, for example leaving the home or having visitors for a reason not permitted under legislation. The main indicators of adherence and behaviour have remained broadly stable since March 2021.

More about coronavirus

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3. Adherence to self-isolation requirements

Non-adherent behaviour was most likely to take place in the period between the onset of symptoms (which required self-isolation) and receiving a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) test result.

Of those with symptoms prior to their test, the percentage who fully adhered to requirements between onset of symptoms and a positive test result was 84%. This compares with 98% of all those who tested positive who adhered to the requirements in the 24 hours following a positive result, and 94% in the period after the first 24 hours until the end of self-isolation (or the point of the survey if isolation was ongoing).

Of those who did not adhere to the requirements, most left the house for a non-permitted reason (84%). The most reported reasons for leaving the house included to go to the shops, to go to work, school or university, or for another reason not specified.

To understand the risk of COVID-19 spreading outside the household, respondents were asked whether they had contact with non-household members at any point when they felt ill or were self-isolating. More information on defining contact with non-household members and adherence to requirements can be found in Coronavirus and self-isolation after testing positive in England methodology. When considering the risk of the coronavirus spreading, we consider those with any symptoms of illness before their test, for example, a sore throat.

The majority (84%) of those who tested positive for COVID-19 reported having no contact with non-household members while they had any symptoms of illness or during the self-isolation period.

Contact was most likely to take place while out of the house, as 83% of those who had contact with non-household members did so while out of the house. Of those who had contact with non-household members, approximately a quarter (26%) had visitors to their home.

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4. Self-isolation after testing positive data

Coronavirus and self-isolation after testing positive in England
Dataset | Released 4 May 2021
Behaviour of individuals required to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19, from the COVID Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey. Includes information on the impact of self-isolation on well-being and finances. Experimental Statistics.

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5. Glossary

Self-isolation

Self-isolation refers to not leaving your home because you have or might have the coronavirus (COVID-19). It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. In addition to staying at home, if you are self-isolating you should not receive visitors unless the purpose of the visit is to provide essential care. Your self-isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day you had the positive test result if you do not have symptoms) and the next 10 full days. If you still have symptoms after 10 days, you must continue self-isolating until they are gone.

For further information please see NHS guidance When to self-isolate and what to do.

Symptoms

Symptoms reported by respondents that do not require self-isolation prior to a positive test, if not experienced alongside a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste are: shortness of breath or trouble breathing; runny or stuffy nose; muscle or body aches; headaches; sore throat; fatigue; vomiting, diarrhoea or severe stomach pain.

Symptoms which require an individual to self-isolate prior to a positive test result are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste (see NHS guidance When to self-isolate and what to do).

Lockdown

On 5 January 2021, the UK government announced a further national lockdown for England. On 22 February 2021, the UK government published a four-step roadmap to ease lockdown restrictions in England.

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6. Measuring the data

Survey information

The latest quality and methodology information on data from the COVID Test and Trace Cases Insights Survey can be found in Coronavirus and self-isolation after testing positive in England methodology.

Estimates for Wave 3

This is the third bulletin in this series. The third wave of data was collected between 12 and 16 April 2021. The number of respondents was 1,168.

Respondents were sampled through the Contact Tracing and Advice Service (CTAS) database, held by NHS Test and Trace, using implicit stratification. Respondents were aged 18 years and over, had tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) and reached day 10 of their self-isolation period between 10 and 15 April 2021.

A minority (6%) of respondents were interviewed on day 9, just before the end of their isolation period, 22% were interviewed on the last day of their self-isolation period (day 10) and 69% were interviewed within 4 days following the end of their self-isolation period (days 11 to 14). The longest time between the end of self-isolation and interview was 6 days.

Of the potential respondents who were successfully contacted by an interviewer, the response rate was 55%. When including cases where contact was attempted but not made, the response rate was 17%.

A low response rate can be expected, as the target population was likely unwell with COVID-19 and so less likely to participate.

Percentages in this report are based on weighted counts that are representative of the population of adults (aged 18 years or over) who had tested positive for COVID-19 and began their self-isolation period between 15 March and 11 April 2021.

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7. Strengths and limitations

Information on the strengths and limitations of this survey are available in Coronavirus and self-isolation after testing positive in England methodology.

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Manylion cyswllt ar gyfer y Bwletin ystadegol

Anna Fok
publicservicesanalysis@ons.gov.uk
Ffôn: +44 (0)1633 651752