What are the changes to Covid self-isolation rules in England?

The number of days required for self-isolation has been reduced. Credit: PA

The time required for a person to self-isolate due to Covid has been cut in England.

Here we take a look at the new rules.

What are the new self-isolation rules?

Anyone who develops Covid symptoms or tests positive for the virus must self-isolate immediately.

From Monday, people in England will be allowed to leave self-isolation after five full days rather than the the previous seven, as long as they provide two negative lateral flow tests.

They will be permitted to take a test on day five and if they test negative, another 24 hours later and will then be allowed to leave isolation immediately if they produce a further negative result.

From today, Self-isolation rules in Wales will be cut to a minimum of five full days. Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Previously, the UK Health Security Agency guidance was for cases to isolate for at least six full days from the point at which they had symptoms or got a positive test, whichever is first.

A person would then be released from self-isolation after two negative lateral flow test results on days six and seven.

What has been said about the change?

Sajid Javid told MPs in the House of Commons that UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data showed “that around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five”.

He added: “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.”

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Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This is a pragmatic move which leaders will welcome if it can mean more health and care workers who are well enough can return to the frontline, providing it does not significantly add to the risk of the virus spreading.

“The number of people in hospital is still high, with admissions still rising in the North of England and, alongside that, the NHS faces a huge care backlog and significant vacancies.

“Leaders are grateful for the military support that has been made available to help deliver hospital services, as well as the three-month agreement with the independent sector, but we are certainly not out of the woods yet.”

Why has this decision been made?

It will help address staff shortages across the economy and public services by allowing people to return to work earlier.

Politically, it will also aid the prime minister as he was under pressure from a number of Tories to change the self-isolation guidance.