Covid self-isolation period cut to seven days with negative test results in England
The Guardian reported, the Covid self-isolation period has been cut to seven days in a move that could save Christmas for thousands of people and ease mounting staff shortages.
From Wednesday, new guidance will enable the 10-day self-isolation period for vaccinated and unvaccinated people in England who have tested positive for coronavirus to be reduced by three days if they get the all-clear from lateral flow tests.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said, people who receive negative results from tests taken 24 hours apart on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period will no longer have to self-isolate for the full 10 days.
However, those who are not fully vaccinated will still have to isolate for the full 10 days if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.
The agency added, those who leave self-isolation on or after day seven are “strongly advised” to limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with Covid-19.
Sajid Javid, the health secretary, said: “We are reducing the self-isolation period from 10 days to seven if you test negative on a lateral flow test for two days running. It’s vital people keep playing their part by testing regularly and isolating if they test positive. And I urge you to get boosted now to protect yourself and those around you.”
Some businesses had feared that if the rules were not relaxed then they could be crippled by mass staff absences. However, scientists and others have raised concerns, arguing that shortening the self-isolation regime could increase the likelihood of Covid spread, given lateral flow tests are not entirely reliable indicators of whether someone is infected.
Analysis by the UKHSA suggests that a seven-day isolation period alongside two negative lateral flow test results has nearly the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period without lateral flow testing.
UKHSA said, the new approach reflects the latest evidence on how long infected people transmit the virus for and will support essential public services and supply chains over the winter, while still limiting the spread of the virus.
The UKHSA chief executive, Dr Jenny Harries, said: “Covid-19 is spreading quickly among the population and the pace at which Omicron is transmitting may pose a risk to running our critical public services during winter.
“This new guidance will help break chains of transmission and minimise the impact on lives and livelihoods. It is crucial that people carry out their lateral flow tests as the new guidance states and continue to follow public health advice.”
It should be noted that this article was amended on 22 December 2021. After publication the UKHSA clarified that the seven-day period also applied to unvaccinated people who tested negative on days six and seven, but that the 10-day period would still apply to those who were not fully vaccinated if they were a close contact of someone who had tested positive.