Blood cancer and coronavirus
What if someone in my household gets covid?
If someone you live with tests positive for covid, there are things you can do to reduce your risk of catching it.
Page updated 19 January 2022
Practical ways to protect yourself
As someone who's at higher risk of serious illness, there are precautions you can take to protect yourself if someone you live with gets covid. These things may depend on the layout of your home and your relationship to the person who has covid.
Here is a range of ideas to keep you safe – hopefully some of these will work for you and your household:
- Stay 2 metres apart if you can – Keeping your distance can help, so try to stay in separate rooms as much as possible.
- Keep your hands clean – Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser, and avoid touching your face.
- Wear face masks – If it's difficult to keep your distance at all times, both you and the person with covid wearing a face mask may offer some protection.
- Ventilate your home – It helps to keep shared space well-ventilated by outside doors and windows, if you can.
- Clean frequently – Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces which get touched a lot, such as door handles.
- Use separate bathrooms – Or if you share a bathroom, clean it after each use.
- Keep personal items separate – Use separate towels and keep personal items like toothbrushes away from each other.
- Don't share kitchen items – Use separate cutlery, crockery, dishcloths and tea towels to stop germs spreading.
- Sleep separately – If you can, sleep in separate beds, or ideally, separate rooms.
Moving out temporarily
If someone is self-isolating because they have covid, other people in the household may not need to self-isolate as well. This will depend on where you live in the UK and your personal situation.
If you don't have to self-isolate and you have a negative lateral flow test, you may want to consider staying somewhere else until the person with covid has finished their self-isolation period, if that's an option for you. You would need to be sure that anyone you move in with is fully vaccinated and is not at high risk from covid themselves.
Looking after your mental health
As someone who has blood cancer or has had it in the past, you're bound to feel anxious about being in close proximity to someone with covid. You may also be worried about the person who's ill, although most otherwise healthy people will have it mildly, especially if they are fully vaccinated.
We have more information about coping with stress which you might find helpful.
Covid treatments for people at high risk
It may be reassuring to know that people at high risk of serious illness from covid are eligible for antibody and antiviral treatments if they test positive. This includes most people with blood cancer.
Read more about covid treatments and how to get them if you test positive.
When will it be safe to mix again?
The self-isolation rules vary between the different countries of the UK. But in general, someone who tests positive for covid must self-isolate for 10 full days from the date their symptoms started or, if they have no symptoms, the date of a positive test. After 10 days, they are unlikely to be infectious, even if they still have a cough or changes to their sense of taste or smell. However, if they have a temperature or feel unwell after 10 days, they should seek medical advice and continue to self-isolate. And as someone who's vulnerable to covid, you should carry on taking practical steps to avoid close contact with them, as far as you can.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, people with covid may be able to stop isolating before 10 full days have passed. But anyone who stops isolating before 10 days is expected to take extra precautions, including limiting contact with people at higher risk of serious illness from covid. So in practice, it will always be a minimum of 10 full days before you can mix with a household member who has been self-isolating.
Here is the current self-isolation guidance for each of the four UK countries:
If you need practical help
If you need help, either because you have to self-isolate, or because you normally rely on the person with covid for support, consider these ways of getting the help you need:
- ask friends, family or neighbours to do your shopping or collect medicines
- do your shopping online but make sure you tell the delivery driver to leave the shopping outside
- check if your pharmacy can deliver repeat prescriptions if you need medicines during the isolation period
- contact your local council to find out about local services or voluntary organisations
- in England, register for support from NHS volunteer responders.
Join our mailing list for key updates about coronavirus for people with blood cancer, what we're doing to help, and ways you can help, including campaigns you may be interested in.
Support for you
Call our free and confidential support line on 0808 2080 888. We are currently receiving a very high volume of calls related to coronavirus, so if you're not able to get through straight away, please leave a message and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.
You can also email us if you prefer to get in contact that way. We'll usually get back to you within two working days, but due to the current rate of calls and emails we are currently receiving it may take us longer.
Talk to other people with blood cancer on our Online Community Forum – there is a group for coronavirus questions and support.
You can also find out what's helping other people affected by blood cancer through coronavirus and beyond in our pages on living well with blood cancer.
The following companies have provided funding for our coronavirus support, but have had no further input: AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Celgene, Gilead, Incyte, Kyowa Kirin, Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, Takeda.