A quarter of people are now flouting Covid self-isolation rules by leaving home or having visitors even after testing positive for the virus, a survey suggests.
One in four adults (25 per cent) in England said they no longer fully adhered to the isolation requirements for the entire 10-day period after catching coronavirus.
Polling carried out by the Office for National Statistics suggested that the proportion of people who were ignoring the rules has been increasing since spring.
In September, ONS data showed 22 per cent of people were not self-isolating after a positive test, while that figure stood at 20 per cent in July and 13 per cent in May.
The ONS described the increasing number of non-compliant adults in England from May to November as “statistically significant”.
Some 25 per cent of people admitted to carrying out at least one activity during self-isolation that broke the rules, such as leaving home or having visitors for reasons not permitted under legislation - up from 22 per cent in the September survey.
The polling, carried out between 1 and 6 November, also found that around a third (34 per cent) of those who tested positive for Covid reported that self-isolation had a negative effect on their well-being and mental health.
The ONS added a note of caution about the statistics, saying only a “small number” of respondents (976) took part in the survey and they had been asked to report their own behaviour.
Respondents were aged 18 years and over and had tested positive for coronavirus and reached day 10 of their self-isolation period between 31 October and 3 November.
Tim Gibbs, head of the ONS public services analysis team, said that “although the majority of those testing positive for Covid-19 are following self-isolation requirements, there has been a decrease since earlier this year”.
He said: “It's important that we continue to self-isolate when necessary in order to help keep everyone safe and stop the spread of the virus, especially as we are moving into the winter months.”
It remains a legal requirement to self-isolate if told to do so by NHS Test and Trace, with people risking fines if they do not do so.
People who must self-isolate include those who have Covid symptoms (a high temperature, cough or loss of smell or taste) or have tested positive, and those living with someone who has symptoms or tested positive.