Covid Self-Isolation Period Slashed To Five Days, Announces Sajid Javid

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Javid said there were 'early signs that the rate of hospitalisation is starting to slow'. (Photo: Future Publishing via Getty Images)
Javid said there were 'early signs that the rate of hospitalisation is starting to slow'. (Photo: Future Publishing via Getty Images)

Health secretary Sajid Javid has announced that the self-isolation period following a positive Covid test will be cut from seven to five days.

From Monday, people in England will only have to self-isolate for five full days, but will have to take two negative tests before they leave isolation at the start of day six.

The health secretary said the decision had been made following data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) which showed that around two thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five.

He told the Commons: “We want to use the testing capacity that we’ve built up to help these people leave isolation safely.

“After reviewing all of the evidence, we’ve made the decision to reduce the minimum self-isolation period to five full days in England.

“From Monday, people can test twice before they go — leaving isolation at the start of day six.

“These two tests are critical to these balanced and proportionate plans, and I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the capacity we have built up in tests so we can restore the freedoms to this country while we’re keeping everyone safe.”

The development comes following concerns of a staffing crisis across UK workplaces caused by the high number of Omicron cases sweeping through the country.

The move to cut the self-isolation period follows a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States that the isolation period be reduced from 10 days to five days.

It said there was evidence to suggest that people with coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

Labour welcomed the cut to the self-isolation period but said testing needed to be “sorted out”.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told MPs: “Before Christmas he told us there was no issue with supply but over Christmas NHS staff and other keyworkers were unable to access tests because the government hadn’t noticed that the deliveries had shut up shop for Christmas.

“Workforce shortages are one of the biggest challenges facing the NHS and the wider economy during the current wave of the Omicron variant.

“This measure will help people get back to work faster and safely.”

Alluding to the partygate scandal engulfing Boris Johnson, Streeting joked: “Great news for the prime minister Mr deputy speaker, who through a terribly unfortunate coincidence of timing is isolating today, unable to face the cameras or the public.

“How good of the secretary of state to help the prime minister back to work in time to face the music again at prime minister’s questions next week.”

Javid complained that there had been “not one word of thanks from him [Streeting] to the NHS, the volunteers, the military and everyone who helped” with the booster rollout”.

“It will be noted by the British public,” he added, to which Streeting could be heard shouting from the opposition benches.

Javid then invited Streeting back to the despatch box following the altercation.

Streeting replied: “I am not sure whether that is in order, but what I did say from a sedentary position was the prime minister is not fit to lick the boots of NHS staff in this country.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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