Coronavirus self-isolation period expected to increase

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock. Picture: PA Wire

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock. Picture: PA Wire - Credit: Archant

The self-isolation period for people with coronavirus symptoms is expected to increase to 10 days.

It is understood an announcement from the deputy chief medical officer for England, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam will be made today regarding change in advice, which currently states those with symptoms or a positive test should isolate for at least seven days.

It comes amid health leaders’ fears of a “second spike” and an ongoing row over 14-day quarantine measures put in place for travellers returning from Spain.

Advice for those who have been in close contact with someone with the virus is expected to remain unchanged.

The guidance from the NHS is that people must self-isolate for 14 days if they live with, or are in a bubble with, someone that has symptoms or has tested positive or they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

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The latest figures for the Test and Trace programme will be published later.

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Flexible working, more regular staff morale surveys and a requirement for NHS trusts and clinical commissioning groups to publish progress reports on black and ethnic minority representation within the workforce are also among the plans.

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The announcement comes as health bosses warn of “very high” levels of concern about the possibility of a second spike in coronavirus cases.

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that the combination of a spike of cases with “exhausted staff” while the NHS tries to rebuild services could prove “challenging”.

He told the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus: “I would say in relation to the second spike issue or something coming, the levels of concern among our members - the people who are leading NHS trusts, who are leading in primary care and all levels in the systems - is very high.

“There’s real concern about winter and the compounding factors there, but also about an earlier spike.”

It follows a diplomatic row over the requirement that travellers from Spain would have to quarantine for a period of 14 days on their arrival into the UK.

Speaking on his return to the UK yesterday after cutting short a family holiday in Spain, transport secretary Grant Shapps said he could not rule out more countries being added to the list of nations under the government’s quarantine restrictions.

He told reporters: “We absolutely have to act the moment we get the information and that’s exactly what happened with Spain as we saw and as we’ve seen over the weekend where there was over 6,100 cases - the highest since the peak in March over there.

“It was the right thing to do and it’s why the whole of the UK did (it) at the same time.

“I can’t therefore rule out other countries having to go into the quarantine as well.”

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