Following the announcement of new restrictions, those who are in self-isolation with COVID-19 may be able to return to the outside world a little sooner. People in England who have tested positive for COVID-19 can lower their isolation requirement to five full days starting on January 17th.
People must have gotten two negative quick lateral flow device (LFD) tests on days 5 and 6, as well as not having a temperature, to be able to leave isolation early. If a person does not get two consecutive negative results, they must continue to isolate themselves. To be released from isolation, a person who tests positive on day 5 must provide consistent findings on days 6 and 7. This technique must be repeated until two negative findings are obtained on consecutive days or the person completes a 10-day isolation period.
“These two tests are critical to these balanced and proportionate plans and I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the capacity we’ve built up in tests so we can restore more freedom to this country, whilst we are keeping everyone safe.”Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid
The adjustments are the result of the UK Health Security Agency’s (UKHSA) rigorous evaluation of modelling with the purpose of supporting key public services and workforces. Those who are released from isolation early should continue to take measures, such as:
- Working from home if possible
- Wearing face coverings
- Limiting contact with people in crowded or poorly ventilated areas
- Minimising contact with people at a higher risk of severe illness related to COVID-19
According to official studies, around 6% of those discharged from isolation on day 7 after two negative LFD results are still infectious. According to the UKHSA, around 7% of people who might be discharged on day 6 following the new modifications will still be contagious. Without the confirmation of two negative tests, that percentage jumps to as high as 30%.
In other cases, such as for individuals who work with vulnerable people, isolation may be required for prolonged periods of time. In the near future, officials are anticipated to give further information on this topic.
Contact isolation regulations for those infected with COVID-19 will not change. Individuals who have been fully vaccinated do not need to isolate, but they should have daily fast LFD tests for seven days. Unvaccinated contacts are legally compelled to isolate for the whole 10-day period.
Wales and Scotland previously decreased their self-isolation requirements from ten to seven days if two LFD test results were negative. Neither country has declared intentions for a further decrease as of the 13th of January. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Paul Givan, has shown interest in following England’s lead, but no decision has been taken.