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Government increases self-isolation period to ten days amid ‘real possibility’ people can still pass on Covid-19

3 min read

The public will have to self-isolate for ten days if they show any symptoms of coronavirus, under a change in the guidance issued by the Government.

The three-day increase in the isolation period — which will apply right across the UK — comes amid concern about a possible second wave of the virus.

Under the new rules people in the UK are told to stay at home for ten 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.

In a joint statement, all four of the UK’s chief medical officers said: “In symptomatic people COVID-19 is most infectious just before, and for the first few days after symptoms begin. 

“It is very important people with symptoms self-isolate and get a test, which will allow contact tracing.

“Evidence, although still limited, has strengthened and shows that people with COVID-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between 7 and 9 days after illness onset.”

They added: “We have considered how best to target interventions to reduce risk to the general population and consider that at this point in the epidemic, with widespread and rapid testing available and considering the relaxation of other measures, it is now the correct balance of risk to extend the self-isolation period from 7 to 10 days for those in the community who have symptoms or a positive test result.

“This will help provide additional protection to others in the community. This is particularly important to protect those who have been shielding and in advance of the autumn and winter when we may see increased community transmission.”

Speaking to Sky News on Thursday morning ahead of the joint statement, Health Secretary Matt 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,” he said.

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

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.

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.

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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