Covid: Self-isolation period cut from 10 days to seven in Scotland with consecutive negative tests

How Scots are reacting to Nicola Sturgeon's new, more relaxed Covid rules, ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith explains

People who test positive for Covid-19 in Scotland will be able to cut their self-isolation period from 10 days to seven if they return consecutive negative lateral flow tests, it has been announced.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the move would come in from midnight and will apply to people testing negative on lateral flow tests for the last two days and have no fever.

"There will now be an option to end isolation after seven days, as long as you firstly have no fever and secondly you record two negative lateral flow tests," she said in an address to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

"One no earlier than day six after testing positive and another at least 24 hours after that."

The initial advice for when someone tests positive will still be to self-isolate for ten days, she added.

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Warning that Covid infections are likely to rise after school and work resumed after the holidays, Ms Sturgeon used her virtual address to advise the Scottish public to limit contact with people in other households as far as possible.

She did not announce further curbs, acknowledging that to cut all social interactions would not be "feasible" as people have had to live through restrictions for so much of the pandemic.

But she did say existing curbs, such as the limits on large gatherings, will likely remain in force until at least January 17.

As ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith notes, the first minister said Omicron is “unlikely to be the last variant we encounter” and so she’s seeking ways to adapt that are “proportionate and less restrictive.”

The self-isolation reduction brings Scotland in line with the self-isolation guidelines in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross and Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie were among those calling for the reduction, which is hoped will ease staff shortages and help businesses struggling with absences.

In Scotland, a further 17,259 Covid cases were reported on Tuesday following a record high of 20,217 positive tests on Monday.

With a considerable number of medical staff in isolation due to infection, there is an increased risk of a stretched health service being unable to cope with treating Covid patients at a time of intensifying Winter pressures.

Echoing these fears, Boris Johnson said on Monday that the pressure on the NHS is going to be “considerable” for the “next couple of weeks and maybe more”.