COVID isolation period cut from seven days to five

·2 min read
Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

The amount of time you'll need to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 has been reduced. From Monday, people will be able to leave isolation after negative lateral flow tests on days five and six, under new measures announced today by Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

It comes after weeks of increased pressure on the NHS with staff isolating due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. Just last month, the isolation period was cut from 10 days to seven, but the new measures hope to further reduce staffing pressures in sectors like the NHS and schools.

Javid pointed out that the reduction follows UK Health Security Agency data, which has shown that two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by day five. This means that, with a second negative test, people will be able to leave isolation "at the start of day six".

Speaking about the government's responsive action, Javid said that the UK is the "freest in Europe" and was "leading the world in how to live with COVID".

He continued: "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."

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Looking towards the UK's future in a post-pandemic world, the Heath Secretary told the House of Commons that while the virus is "still with us and there are still likely to be difficult weeks ahead" there are now encouraging signs that infections are falling in London and the east of England (although they are still rising elsewhere in the country).

The announcement comes hot on the heels of widespread public backlash towards the government and Boris Johnson after details of a party at Downing Street during the height of lockdown came to light.

Despite initially denying knowledge of the party, yesterday the Prime Minister confirmed that he did attend the party, however he maintains that he thought it was a "work event". In response, members of the public have been sharing heartbreaking stories of what they were doing at the same time, including many who missed out on precious time with loved ones or those who had to say goodbye at funerals via video calls.

An independent investigation looking into other suspected gatherings that happened during 2020's lockdown is currently underway.

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