Ministers in Wales to review advice around reducing self isolation to five days after cut in England today
Self-isolation guidance for people who test positive for COVID-19 in England has changed from today.
People with Covid-19 in England will be able to reduce their isolation to just five days if they test negative on days 5 and 6 from today (Monday, January 17).
The change is intended to maximise activity in the economy and education while minimising the risk of people passing on the virus.
Wales’ first minister Mark Drakeford said on Friday “we are yet to see that evidence” to justify any further reductions to the self-isolation period in Wales.
But Wales’ chief medical officer Dr Frank Atherton has said today that ministers will be looking at advice around reducing the period of self-isolation to 5 days.
Before omicron, people in the UK with COVID symptoms or a positive test had to self-isolate for ten days.
But when the new variant of concern arrived, governments in the UK changed the self-isolation period to seven days.
People in England will now be able to leave isolation after two negative lateral flow tests – taken 24 hours apart – from day five, the rules are the same regardless of vaccine status.
Self-isolation guidance for people who test positive for COVID-19 in England has changed.
From today, people can leave self-isolation after five full days if they test negative on days 5 and 6.
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— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) January 17, 2022
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales today, Dr Atherton was asked if Wales will follow England and reduce the self-isolation period to five days, he said: “There’s always a trade-off between the length of time and the risk that you face of reducing that length of time.”
“If everybody was to be released on day 5 after they tested positive or developed symptoms of Coronavirus, then about 30% of people would still be infectious.”
“That can be reduced if we use lateral flow test sequentially on the two days before release.”
“But whatever you use you choose to do, the risk of infectious people in the community does increase if you reduce the number of days so that’s advice that we’ll be putting up to ministers this week.”
“They’ll be looking at that and they will make a decision on that.”
“People in Wales generally expect us to be a little bit more cautious but ministers will be looking at this week on the basis of advice that we sent up.”
Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS that with the booster jab rollout so advanced, “the need to keep public services staffed, and the increasing desire to move to a point where we live with the virus, the time for cutting the self-isolation has come.”
“I can understand nerves about reducing the self-isolation period but it still requires negative testing and data shows most people are not infectious after five days. This is also happening when the dominant strain in the UK is the milder Omicron variant.”
Russell George said: “We saw over the Christmas period that Covid was harming British society, not through mass hospitalisations and deaths but, through thousands having to isolate, leaving public services understaffed, consumers short-changed, and businesses losing out.”
“We’ve already seen Labour’s botched over-reaction to Omicron and how that has impacted businesses. By cutting the self-isolation period, they can start atoning for the damage they have done.” He said.
During a press conference on Friday, Mark Drakeford said: “What we will be doing is looking at whatever evidence the UK Government has used to come to a conclusion (to reduce isolation time from 7 to 5 days).”
“As I understand it (The UK Government decision) moves the removal of self-isolation by just 24 hours.”
“I know (the UK Government) is saying seven days to five days but when you look at the small print, it’s actually 24 hours.”
He said that when the Welsh Government was given all the evidence in December prior to the decision to move the self-isolation period from 10 days to seven days in Wales, “it showed that at day five, more than three out of 10 people are still infectious.”
“That did not seem sensible to us to have that number of people with Covid out and about spreading it to others.”
“We will study whatever evidence is now available if we think it is safe and our chief medical officer and scientific advisers say to us that we can now move down the days in a way that doesn’t cause risk to others, of course, that’s what we will do.”
“But we’re yet to see that evidence or to get that advice.”
Current self-isolation rules in Wales.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate and take a PCR test as soon as possible. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 you must self-isolate and follow the guidance below.
You can leave self-isolation after 7 full days (on day 8 of your self-isolation period).
You should take a lateral flow test (LFT) on day 6 of your self-isolation period and another lateral flow test 24 hours later. This is to check if you remain infectious and could pass COVID-19 on to others.
You should not take a LFT before the sixth day of your self-isolation period because the risks of remaining infectious and the chances of passing it on to others before this period is significantly higher.
If you are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should follow this guidance. If you are not fully vaccinated, you are legally required to self-isolate as a close contact for 10 days.
More here: https://gov.wales/self-isolation
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