The minimum self-isolation period for people who test positive for Covid-19 in England will be reduced from seven to five days on Monday, British Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Thursday.
“About two-thirds of positive cases are no longer contagious by the end of the fifth day,” Javid told the House of Commons, citing data from the UK Health Security Agency.
“After reviewing all the evidence, we made the decision to reduce the minimum period of self-isolation to five full days in England. From Monday people can test [negative] twice before their departure, leaving isolation at the start of the sixth day, ”he continued.
Currently, anyone who tests positive in England can leave self-isolation seven days after the date of their first positive test if they receive two negative LFD results, 24 hours apart, on days six and seven of their period. isolation.
Javid told the Commons that “any restriction on our freedoms must be an absolute last resort and that we should not hold them in place for more than a day than is absolutely necessary.”
Despite “encouraging signs of declining infections in London and eastern England,” he cautioned against the need to “proceed with caution”, adding that the Omicron variant “still has the potential to lead to a large number of people hospitalized “, due to its greater transmissibility.
“There are already nearly 17,000 Covid-19 patients hospitalized in England, and due to the lag between infections and hospitalizations, the NHS will remain under significant pressure over the next few weeks,” Javid said.
Javid added that it was encouraging that England did not see an increase in the number of Covid-19 intensive care patients during the Omicron wave, but stressed the importance of vaccines.
“We know Omicron is less serious, but no one should be kidding themselves – it is serious for anyone who ends up in the hospital and it is much more likely if you haven’t received the vaccine. “, he continued.