Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced a change to the self-isolation policy in England from Monday 17th January 2022 after weeks of pressure to ease a staffing crisis in the NHS.
Currently people who test positive for Covid can be freed midway through their seventh full day of isolation, if they test negative on days six and seven.
But Mr Javid today announced that period will be cut by between 24 and 48 hours, after huge pressure from Tory MPs and a staffing crisis in the NHS.
Under the new rules, people will have isolate for at least five full days, starting at 12.01am the day after their positive test or the start of symptoms.
They will then be able to leave isolation at the start of the sixth full day – if they have tested negative for Covid on both Day 5 and Day 6.
Mr Javid said with testing, boosters and antivirals, “it’s no wonder we are the freest country in Europe. This country is leading the world in learning to live with Covid.”
But it came amid a furious Commons clash, as Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting condemned the PM’s party rule-breaking and said: “The Prime Minister is not fit to lick the boots of NHS staff in this country.”
Your first “full day” of isolation starts at 12.01am, the calendar day after you test positive or show symptoms. So if you test positive at 11am, ‘Day 1’ starts 13 hours later.
This suggests the new total isolation time will, in reality, be somewhere between five and six days depending on what time the test came back or symptoms started.
However, it’s thought people will be able to take their Day 6 test at one minute past midnight if they wish and go out straight away.
Mr Javid said the change would “maximise activity in the economy and education”, adding: “UK Health Security Agency data shows around two thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of Day 5.”
Mr Javid had faced enormous pressure to cut the isolation period after the US cut isolation to five days, as long as people’s symptoms had cleared by then, followed by five days of mask-wearing.
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From the Mirror.