COVID-19 - Guide to setting up an isolation room

20 March 2020

This is general guidance for General Practitioners and Allied service providers. It cannot consider all local circumstance and will need to be adapted to fit practices, services and locations. It is anticipated that practices and services will want to have more than one room available for this purpose as they must be cleaned after use before a further patient can be assessed.

Room Selection

  • Should be well ventilated and air conditioning if present needs to be disabled.
  • The room should be close to a toilet that can be dedicated for patients only or in extremis a bucket placed within the examination room
  • Remove clutter and unnecessary furniture


  • Examination couch
  • 2 Chairs
  • Facilities for hand washing with soap and hot water, alternatively alcohol hand gel
  • Telephone (ideally, or adequate mobile signal)


  • Notice for patients as to why they are isolation and how they can reception for help without leaving the room (see patient in isolation document)
  • Facemasks and vomit bowls
  • Tissues and contaminated waste disposal bags
  • Digital thermometer (if available) and clothes peg type pulse oximeter.
  • Bottled water


Is important to be able to keep track of which rooms are being used by patients and which are requiring be cleaned. We have chosen to produce laminated signs which can be simply turned around to indicate a change in the rooms status. They are produced here as examples you may wish to use them or create your own solutions for your own locations. Download these sign templates which can be edited for your specific needs:

Cleaning after use

  • Once used the isolation room or area should remain shut the area cordoned off with windows open and air-conditioning turned off until it has been cleaned with detergent and disinfectant.
  • If a suspected case spent time in a communal area, for example, a waiting area toilet facilities, then these areas should be cleaned with detergent and disinfectant as soon as practicably possible unless there has been a blood or body with spill which should be dealt with immediately.
  • Pay particular attention to commonly touched areas such as door handles and touch screens
  • Once cleaning has been completed the area can be put back into use.
  • The usual PPE equipment and protocols apply when cleaning and disinfecting; Gloves, aprons and splash resistant masks.  specialist equipment such as FFP-3 masks are not required in primary care. Disposable gloves and aprons should be available in the practice as part of routine cleaning, disinfection and decontamination staff should use the usual cleaning routine and guidance.
  • Remove and discard PPE as clinical waste.
  • Practice staff who have been in contact with possible cases are not required to stay at home

Post written by

Simon Stockley

Dr. Simon Stockley is the RCGP Clinical Champion for Sepsis, and represents the RCGP on the NHS England Cross-systems Sepsis Prevention Programme Board and the Academy of Royal Colleges Sepsis Group. A GP for 30 years, he has prepared multiple sepsis teaching and support aids for clinicians working in general practice.

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