"Confident" health chiefs lower self-isolation period to 10 days

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty Picture: Leon Neal/PA Wire

Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty Picture: Leon Neal/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The UK's leading medical officers have announced the self-isolation period is to be shortened by four days from next week.

The chief medical officers of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have decided following the review of evidence the self-isolation period for contacts of a positive coronavirus case will be 10 days instead of 14.

The 10-day isolation will also apply to those needing to quarantine after returning from countries which are not on the travel corridor list and apply to all those who are currently self-isolating, when the change comes into effect on Monday.

A joint statement was issued by England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty, Scotland's interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith, Northern Ireland's chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride and Wales' chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton.

They said those who test positive for Covid-19 should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or from taking a positive test if asymptomatic.

In a statement, the health chiefs said: "Self-isolation is essential to reducing the spread of Covid as it breaks the chains of transmission.

"After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10 days."

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According to experts, by day 10 only around one to two people in 100 are likely to still be capable of passing on the virus to others, according to experts.

People are still advised to avoid high-risk activities when this period ends due to a residual risk of being infectious.

NHS Test and Trace will tell people to self-isolate for 10 days from Monday, but the NHS Covid-19 app will only do the same from Thursday.

Those who receive a notification to self-isolate on the app prior to December 17 will be able to end their quarantine when the countdown timer says there are three days left.

In the weekly surveillance survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the proportion of people testing positive for Covid-19 is showing early signs rates may have increased in eastern England, while rates have decreased in all other regions.

Elsewhere on Friday, the reproduction number, or R value, of coronavirus transmission across the UK is now between 0.9 and 1, the Government Office for Science and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said.

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