Data collected from 28 June to 3 July 2021 show that the majority (89%) of those who had contact with a positive coronavirus (COVID-19) case fully adhered to self-isolation requirements throughout their full isolation period.
Adherence to self-isolation requirements was statistically significantly higher among those who developed COVID-19 symptoms (94%) compared with those who did not (86%).
Most respondents (91%) reported having no contact with non-household members for their full period of isolation.
Of those who reported non-adherent behaviour, 79% left their house at least once during the isolation period for a non-permitted reason.
Over one-third (37%) of all respondents reported that self-isolation had a negative effect on their well-being and mental health, and 28% reported having lost income because of self-isolation.
“As infection rates have increased, it is unsurprising that around one third of those required to self-isolate after contact with a positive case reported developing symptoms of COVID-19.
“Adherence to self-isolation requirements was significantly higher amongst those who developed symptoms compared with those who didn’t.
“With restrictions easing further, it is important we continue to monitor the behaviour of those required to self-isolate.”
Tim Gibbs, Public Services Analysis team, Office for National Statistics.
Follow the Public Services Analysis team on Twitter: @HughStickBack to table of contents
Since December 2020, there has been a legal duty in England to self-isolate for 10 days if you live in the same household as a person who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), or if you have been in close contact with, but do not live with, a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The data presented in this bulletin were collected from individuals (“contacts”) who had been identified as having been in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19. The data were collected at the point when this population had recently reached (or were near to) the end of their self-isolation period. More information on identifying this group of people, self-isolation and collecting the data can be found in the Glossary and Measuring the data sections.
Between 28 June and 3 July 2021, the majority (89%) of respondents reported fully adhering to self-isolation requirements throughout the whole isolation period, as shown in Table 1. This was slightly higher than in the previous survey (87% between 1 and 5 June 2021), but statistically significantly lower than the result between 4 and 8 May 2021 (93%).
|4 to 8|
|1 to 5|
|28 June |
to 3 July
|Percentage reporting full adherence to the |
requirements for their full isolation period
or until the point of the survey
|Percentage reporting no contact with non-|
household members for their full isolation
period or until the point of the survey
|Percentage who fully understood the self-|
|Percentage who developed COVID-19 symptoms||21%||35%¹||34%³|
|Percentage who agreed that “it was easy for me |
|Percentage reporting self-isolation had a |
negative effect on their well-being and
|Percentage reporting having lost income due|
|Percentage who downloaded the NHS Test and |
|Of those who did not adhere to the requirements, |
percentage leaving the house for a non-permitted
|Of those who did not adhere to the requirements,|
percentage who had one or more visitors to their
home (excluding visits for personal care)
|Of those who had applied and received the NHS Test |
and Trace Support payment, percentage who had no
contact with non-household members within 24 hours
of receiving a notification to self-isolate
Download this table Table 1: Indicators of behaviour and experience during self-isolation of those who were in contact with a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19).xls .csv
Figure 1 shows the proportion of respondents who fully adhered to self-isolation requirements following contact with a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19), according to selected characteristics.
Adherence to self-isolation requirements was statistically significantly higher among those who developed COVID-19 symptoms (94%) compared with those who did not develop symptoms (86%). Differences within other groups (by sex, age, area deprivation and vaccination status) were not significant.
More about coronavirus
The majority (91%) of those required to self-isolate following contact with a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) reported having no contact with non-household members throughout the whole self-isolation period. This result was similar to the previous survey (93% during 1 to 5 June 2021).
The proportion of respondents who did not have contact with a non-household member was higher in the first 24 hours of self-isolation (97%) compared with the rest of the isolation period (93%). Of those who had contact with a non-household member at least once, four in 10 (40%) met two to five non-household members at any one time.Back to table of contents
Respondents were asked about their interpretation of the requirements for self-isolation to determine how well they understood them. Eight out of 10 people (80%) fully understood the requirements, compared with two in 10 people (20%) who either misunderstood or were unsure. There were no significant differences in understanding across all age groups.
In the first 24 hours after they had been informed to self-isolate following contact with a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19), those who understood the guidance were statistically significantly more likely to adhere to it (96%) compared with those who misunderstood or were unsure of the guidance (91%).
Across the whole period of self-isolation, the proportion of those who understood the guidance and adhered to it was statistically significantly higher (92%) than the proportion of those who misunderstood or were unsure of the guidance (73%).Back to table of contents
Coronavirus and self-isolation after being in contact with a positive case in England
Dataset | Released 16 July 2021
Behaviour of individuals required to self-isolate after being in contact with a positive case of COVID-19, from the COVID Test and Trace Contacts Insights Survey. Includes information on the impact of self-isolation on well-being and finances. Experimental Statistics.
Self-isolation refers to not leaving your home because you have been informed by NHS Test and Trace that you are a contact of a person who has had a positive test result for the coronavirus (COVID-19). You must stay at home and complete 10 full days of isolation. It is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you have been notified to by the NHS Test and Trace service. Your isolation period includes the date of your last contact with them and the next 10 full days. If you develop symptoms, stay at home and arrange to have a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19. In addition to staying home, if you are self-isolating you should not receive visitors, unless the purpose of the visit is to provide essential care.
For further information please see NHS guidance on When to self-isolate and what to do.
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. Step 2 of the roadmap (which allowed the re-opening of more businesses and activities) was implemented on 12 April 2021. Step 3 (which eased limits on social contact and allowed further re-opening of businesses and activities) was implemented on 17 May 2021. Step 4 (the final stage of unlocking coronavirus restrictions) was due to be implemented on 21 June 2021 (before this survey), but will now be implemented on 19 July 2021.Back to table of contents
The latest quality and methodology information on data from the COVID Test and Trace Contacts Insights Survey can be found in the Coronavirus and self-isolation after being in contact with a positive case in England: methodology.
Estimates for this survey
The data were collected between 28 June and 3 July 2021. The sample consisted of 990 adults and was stratified to be representative of the age, sex and regional distribution of the “contacts” population.
Percentages in this report are based on weighted counts that are representative of the population of adults (aged 18 years or over) notified as being in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 between 31 May and 27 June 2021 and are adjusted to address age, sex and regional bias in responses.
Of those potential respondents who were successfully contacted by an interviewer, the response rate was 58.4%. When including cases where contact was attempted but not made, the response rate was 17.6%. As with all surveys, these estimates have an associated margin of error.
Respondents were randomly sampled through the Contact Tracing and Advice Service (CTAS) database, held by NHS Test and Trace. The majority (more than 99%) of respondents were interviewed within four days of the end of their self-isolation period, in order to minimise recall bias. The longest time between the end of self-isolation and interview was six days.Back to table of contents
Information on the strengths and limitations of this survey are available in the Coronavirus and self-isolation after being in contact with a positive case in England: methodology.Back to table of contents
Contact details for this Statistical bulletin
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