The Government is advising that people who believe they may have symptoms of coronavirus to self-isolate, but what does that mean and how will it affect you?

According to the Department of Health, if you believe you may carry symptoms of COVID-19, then you should at first keep yourself indoors at home, and then call 111.

This means you shouldn’t go to work, school, or public areas, and not use any public transport or taxis for up to 14 days.

You should avoid contact with any visitors during this period, except for drop-off deliveries for food and necessary supplies.

If you do get a delivery, ask the driver to leave items outside or in the porch.

By doing so, you will restrict a potential spread of the virus.

A cough, high temperature and shortness of breath are all symptoms of the virus, but they do not necessarily mean you have the illness.

If you are awaiting for a COVID-19 test result, have been in close contact with someone infected or traveled to the following places, you should self-isolate:

• 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 February 19.

• To other parts of mainland China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia or Macau in the last 14 days.

• To other parts of northern Italy (anywhere north of Pisa, Flo0rence and Rimini), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar since February 19.

Nicole Rogers, a solicitor at DAS Law, has shared her advice on how self-isolation could impact your employment rights and your pay.

What happens with my pay when I self-isolate?

While self-isolating, you may be able to arrange temporary measures to work from home if you are capable of working.

But she said if you do not work while self-isolating and you are physically capable, then technically you are not entitled to pay.

She added: “However, it is good practice for employers not to deduct pay in these situations.

“An employee would usually be self-isolating on the advice of a doctor, and it is sensible for an employer to show understanding in order to fulfil health and safety obligation and maintain good staff relations.

“In addition, to withhold pay could encourage an employee to return to work prematurely, which might potentially risk spreading the virus.”

If you have contracted the virus, normal rules around sick pay will apply and you will either receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or contractual sick pay.

Ms Rogers added: “What is unclear is a situation where an employee remains off work as they have been quarantined or recommended to isolate themselves.

“In those circumstances it would not strictly be considered as sick, as the reason for the absence isn’t because the employee is unwell and therefore has no entitlement to sick pay.”

If this is the case, and there is no contractual clause clarifying any different, then this will be counted as unpaid leave.

But if your employer has specifically told you not to come into the workplace as you have been in or to an affected area, you would ordinarily receive your normal pay.

Zero-hour contract workers have no right to pay.

What if my child’s school is closed due to coronavirus?

Some schools are taking precautionary measures to temporarily close schools as tests are made for suspected coronavirus symptoms.

This includes Rickmansworth School, which closed at the end of Wednesday (February 26) and will reopen tomorrow (February 27) as two people were tested for the virus.

Public Health England (PHE) said the general advice for schools is not to close.

If an individual is suspected to have the virus, they will be told to stay away from the premises until the test results returns.

All other pupils and staff should return to school as normal.

Ms Rogers said: “You may have the right to reasonable time off to deal with unexpected disruptions relating to the care of your child, this includes incidents relating to your child’s school.

“You must notify your employer as soon as possible and advise, where practicable, how long the disruption is likely to last.

“This time off is unpaid but you may request to use this time as paid annual leave.”