Reducing Covid isolation period 'worth the risk', says expert


The Covid self-isolation period could be cut. - Credit: Chris Bishop

A virus expert has backed suggestions the self-isolation period for people who have Covid-19, but no symptoms, should be cut.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has confirmed ministers are considering reducing the self-isolation period for fully vaccinated people who test positive for Covid from seven days to five days.

Prof Paul Hunter, from the UEA, has encouraged people to donate to the WHO's Covid-19 Response Fund

Paul Hunter, from the UEA's School of Medicine. - Credit: UEA

And Prof Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia's School of Medicine said it could be worth reducing that time period to ease staffing pressures on the NHS.

Prof Hunter said, while that would increase the risk of transmission, the benefits of reducing pressure on an NHS hit by staff shortages due to workers isolating, could mean it was worth it.

He said: "Reducing the period of isolation will increase the risk of transmission, but the issue is whether it would increase it sufficiently to undermine the benefits of cutting it.

"I think reducing it to five days for people who are asymptomatic is the right thing to do.

"I do not think it would have much of an impact on the risk of transmission, but it would ease the difficulties the NHS has been having with staff having to self-isolate."

Norfolk's rates have continued to rise. In the seven days up to Tuesday, January 4, the case rate was 1,619 cases per 100,000 - an increase of 35pc.

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Prof Hunter said Norfolk was probably lagging behind the rest of the country, but that case rates might have peaked - or would very soon.

He said: "It's quite likely that we're a couple of weeks behind London and we could convince ourselves that it might be beginning to plateau, but it is a bit tricky to be sure.

"Most models I have seen to seem to suggest that across the UK as a while, infections might have peaked already or if not, they will shortly.

"Each region will not peak at the same time, but if Norfolk has not peaked already, it probably will in the next week or so.

"Once we have, then unless something comes out of the blue, we will probably need to pedal back a lot of restrictions and open up society more.

"We are not out of it by some way, but I think there are reasons for optimism."

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