When will self-isolation be five days? No 10 draws up new plans



Under fire Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered officials to examine the possibility of shortening Covid-19 self-isolation periods from seven days to just five in England.

Johnson announced his preference to ease quarantine rules, but only if backed by scientific advice and is said to have the backing of Health Secretary Sajid Javid if clinicians give give it the green light.

The Cabinet Office, with help from the UK Health Security Agency and Department of Health and Social Care, will complete an isolation review and submit their findings to Downing Street.

The move to reduce self-isolation time is likely in response to the infrastructure crisis the UK now finds itself in.

Almost every industry is facing a staffing shortage, with train timetables having to be redrawn in response to absences, while healthcare, hospitality and healthcare are also decimated.

Shortening quarantine would go some way to easing these shortages, but it is not without risk.

Some scientists have warned it could result in still infectious individuals returning to work and making the situation worse.

When will self-isolation be five days?

It is less than a month since self-isolation was cut from 10 days to seven in England, if an individual tests negative through a lateral flow test on days six and seven.

But a further cut to five days could be introduced as early as 17 January, depending on what the isolation report recommends.

Some ministers have reportedly urged the PM to follow the United States in bringing in five day quarantines.

However, copying a nation that recently shattered the global daily Covid-19 case record, with 1.35million in a single 24 period, has drawn criticism.

Scientists have urged caution in further reducing isolation periods.

Martin McKee, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a member of the Independent Sage group, said evidence supporting a shortening is “elusive”.

“The limited available evidence, for example [a] small Japanese study, provides little reassurance, suggesting that a substantial proportion of people infected with Omicron are still infectious at five days,” he said.

Also under consideration, is for health and social care workers to have stricter conditions on leaving isolation when compared to the general public.

This is designed to reduce the risk of staff spreading the virus to vulnerable people in hospital or care homes.

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