THE self-isolation period for people who test positive for Covid-19 is being cut to five full days in England, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said. reports the BBC.
From Monday, people will be able to leave isolation after negative lateral flow tests on days five and six.
Ministers had touted the move as a way to reduce staffing pressures in some sectors, including the NHS.
The self-isolation period was cut from 10 to seven days with negative tests on days six and seven back in December.
On Thursday, 109,133 positive Covid cases were reported across the UK, the lowest daily figure since 27 December. A further 335 deaths within 28 days of a positive test were also recorded.
Mr Javid said that the country was the “freest in Europe” and was “leading the world in how to live with Covid”.
He said the self-isolation period was aimed at maximising activity in the economy while “minimising the risk of people leaving isolation”.
UK Health Security Agency data showed that two-thirds of positive cases were no longer infectious by day five, he said.
With a second negative test people will be able to leave isolation “at the start of day six”, he added.
“These two tests are critical to these balanced and proportionate plans, and I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the capacity we have built up in tests so we can restore the freedoms to this country while we’re keeping everyone safe,” he said.
The health secretary told the House of Commons the virus was “still with us and there are still likely to be difficult weeks ahead”, but added there were encouraging signs in the data that infections were falling in London and the east of England – although they were rising in other parts of the country.
Mr Javid also reiterated the government’s commitment to compulsory vaccinations for healthcare workers, saying that uptake had been “very promising” since the announcement of vaccine mandates.