News | Published July 30 2020

Government extends virus self-isolation period to ten days

The government has changed its Covid-19 self-isolation guidance, telling individuals displaying symptoms to self-isolate for ten days as opposed to seven.

The change was announced on Thursday by the chief medical officers across all four UK countries.

The announcements come after prime minister Boris Johnson raised concerns of a second wave of Covid-19 cases coming to the UK from abroad.

The virus’ reproduction rate has been shown to be rising in four UK regions, with significant local outbreaks in Oldham, Wrexham and the county of Staffordshire.

In the announcement, the chief medical officers said that having reviewed research, it was concluded that there is growing evidence that the virus may be transmitted between seven and nine days after people develop symptoms.

Anyone living in the same household as somebody with symptoms will continue to be instructed to remain at home for 14 days.

The UK has now been brought in line with the recommendations from the World Health Organization, and the latest policy in the US.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge said on Wednesday that four out of seven English regions had seen its cases go up, with the reproduction rate of the virus now thought to be over R1 in the south east and south west.

They warned that the easing of lockdown meant that the UK was up against a “comeback of community transmission”.

NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson informed the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus: “I would say in relation to the second spike issue ... the levels of concern among our members – the people who are leading NHS trusts, who are leading in primary care and all levels in the systems – is very high.”

Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that health secretary Matt Hancock is expected to announce that the government is weighing-up means of reducing the 14-day quarantine period for new arrivals in the UK from high-risk countries.

Plans to explore reducing the 14-day quarantine for UK arrivals from high-risk countries come after research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine suggested that if arrivals are tested a week after entering the country, 94 per cent of positive cases are identified, which allowed for the self-isolation period to be reduced to eight days.

Hancock is not expected to make any specific time commitments on Thursday, with ministers still in talks with the aviation industry.

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow Airport, has been vocal in calls to introduce airport testing for arrivals to help bring quarantine windows down.

With regard to testing, the latest figures published on Thursday by the Department of Health & Social Care indicated that 43,119 individuals who tested positive for Covid-19 in England had been referred to the NHS Test and Trace scheme since it commenced in May.

Of those cases, 77 per cent had been successfully contacted with 19 per cent unable to be reached. Out of 222,589 people who were identified as close contacts of positive cases, 83 per cent were successfully reached and informed to go into self-isolation.

For individuals who are reporting for testing in person, 76.4 per cent are receiving their results within 24 hours, which is short of the prime minister's target of a 24-hour turnaround for all which he hoped would be in place by the end of June.

For people using home testing kits, 76.9 per cent are receiving results within 48 hours.

The government is set to launch an online and TV awareness campaign asking anyone with symptoms to be tested, amid concerns that too few people are putting themselves forward to be tested under the false impression that they are ineligible or must pay for it.

Only one third of people who have the virus are thought to be requesting tests, which could limit the government's ability to track and contain local outbreaks.

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
July 30 2020

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