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Coronavirus self-isolation period ‘to increase from seven days to ten’

People are asked to self-isolate if they display symptoms or have been contacted by the NHS’s Test and Trace programme.

3 min read

People with coronavirus symptoms will be expected to stay at home for ten rather than seven days under new government guidance set to be unveiled on Thursday.

The Telegraph reports that Health Secretary Matt Hancock and deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam will announce the move amid concern about a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Currently people across the UK are told to stay at home for seven days if they have any symptoms of the virus; have tested positive for it; live with or are in a ‘support bubble’ with someone who has Covid-19 symptoms; or if they have been contacted by the NHS’s Test and Trace programme.

But Professor Van Tam is expected to point to new research suggesting that this period of isolation should be extended by three days.

The Government is also said to be looking at ways to reduce the 14-day quarantine period imposed on travellers coming back to the UK from countries deemed “high risk”, including Spain.

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday morning as he confirmed an announcement was forthcoming, Mr Hancock said he was "worried about a second wave".

"I think you can see a second wave, starting to roll across Europe, and we've got to do everything we can to prevent it from reaching these shores and tackle it.

"And the measures that the chief medical officer will set out later are part of that.

"But so too are other measures that we're taking, for instance, to ensure that we don't directly bring cases back to this country where there's a big spike in cases, for instance, as we saw in Spain.

"We keep those quarantine rules under review all of the time."

It is unclear whether the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will follow England’s lead, but previous guidance has been used across the UK.

A shift in the self-isolation period from 14 to ten days could be coupled with a move to reduce the quarantine period for all arrivals into the UK from high risk countries.

Boris Johnson on Tuesday did not rule out reducing the quarantine requirement amid anger from holidaymakers and airlines about the move to end travel corridor arrangements with Spain.

The anticipated move meanwhile comes on the day the Government is set to review the month-long local lockdown that has been in force in the city of Leicester.

On Wednesday Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents healthcare organisations, said a fresh uptick of Covid-19 cases across the country could challenge “exhausted staff”.

He told the first public hearing of the All-Party Parliamentary Group 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."

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