Health Minister Sajid Javid said on Thursday that the minimum period of COVID-19 self-isolation in England would be reduced to five days from seven if someone tested negative twice, a move that could reduce the disruption to employment in businesses and infrastructure.
The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has led to a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases to record levels in Britain, and the rise has caused significant disruption to staffing in hospitals, schools and transport as staff have to self-isolate.
“We have taken the decision to reduce the minimum period of self-isolation to a full five days in England,” Javid told Parliament.
“From Monday, people can take the test twice before they go, and leave isolation at the start of the sixth day.”
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The government had previously reduced the isolation period to seven days from 10 days for people in England who tested negative on a rapid lateral flow test two days in a row.
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Britain has reported 151,000 deaths from COVID-19 in total, the seventh highest death total in the world, with the vast majority of deaths occurring in previous waves of the pandemic.
Although daily COVID-19 cases were at a record high, the introduction of booster injections and lower variable severity meant that hospital admissions and deaths did not rise sharply.
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“Because of the time lag between infection and hospitalization, the NHS will remain under great pressure for the next few weeks,” Javid said.
However, it is encouraging that during this wave, we have not seen an increase in intensive care patients for COVID-19. And there are already early signs that the rate of hospitalization is starting to slow.”
(Reporting by Alistair Smoot. Editing by Andrew McCaskill)
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