YOU have no doubt heard the phrase "self-isolate" repeatedly on the news this week after more cases of coronavirus were reported around the world.

But what does that really mean?

The latest advice if there's a chance you could have coronavirus is to call 111 and isolate yourself from other people, say the NHS.

This is to restrict the movement of people who may have been exposed to an infectious disease in an effort to prevent the spread.

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Those placed under quarantine or isolation may not have a confirmed medical diagnosis, but could pose a risk of spreading a virus due to exposure.

Here's everything you need to know about it:

Who needs to self-isolate?

Anybody who feels there is a chance that they could have contracted coronavirus needs to self-isolate, before calling 111 for advice.

But there are certain groups of people who are more at risk than others. You should self-isolate if you have travelled to any of the following places:

  • to Hubei province in China in the last 14 days
  • to Iran, areas of northern Italy in lockdown or "special care zone" areas in South Korea since 19 February
  • to other parts of mainland China or South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath
  • to other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar since 19 February and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath

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How do I self-isolate?

The best place to self-isolate yourself is obviously your own home, where you should stay for the duration of your quarantine.

This means you shouldn't go to work, school or public areas, and not use any public transport or taxis.

If you need something from outside your home, you can ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you.

But you're advised to try to avoid visitors to your home, though it is OK for friends and family or delivery drivers to drop off food and other supplies.

What if I'm not at home?

Of course, it's possible that any coronavirus symptoms could arise while you're out and about.

If this is the case, the official advice insists that you do not go to a GP surgery or hospital, as that could spread the virus inordinately.

Instead, you should try to find a room to isolate yourself away from others. Ask for help if you need to, but try to stay at least two metres away from other people.

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Open a window for ventilation if you can, but otherwise touch objects and surfaces as little as possible, and call 111 for advice.

If you find yourself on public transport and become unwell, you should go back to your home or place of residence immediately.

How long should I self-isolate for?

You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explaining they usually cause “mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses”, like the common cold.

This particular strain originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, the largest city in central China, and is in the same family as SARS and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

The symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.