Will the Covid self-isolation period be reduced to five days in the UK?

10 January 2022, 10:45 | Updated: 13 January 2022, 13:16

The Covid self isolation period could be reduced to five days
The Covid self isolation period could be reduced to five days. Picture: Getty Images/Alamy
Naomi Bartram

By Naomi Bartram

Reports have suggested the isolation period could be changed from seven days, to five in the UK.

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With increasing Covid cases forcing millions of people to miss work, many businesses are calling for the self-isolation period to be reduced to five days.

Currently, in England and Wales those who test positive for coronavirus are required to self-isolate for at least seven days.

In December, this time was cut from ten days, so long as the patient records two negative lateral flow tests, 24 hours apart, on days six and seven.

But will the isolation period be reduced to five days in the UK? Here’s what we know…

The Covid isolation period is five days in the US
The Covid isolation period is five days in the US. Picture: Alamy

Will the Covid self-isolation period be reduced to five days?

Boris Johnson was asked if the quarantine period for fully vaccinated people who test positive could be cut.

“We are looking at that,” the Prime Minister said. “Whether to come down from seven days to five days, the thing to do is look at the science.”

The US recently changed their rules, with the isolation shortened to five days.

Cabinet minister Nadhim Zahawi has said if the UK did the same, it would ‘certainly help’ with staff shortages.

More than one million people are thought to be self-isolating due to a positive test, with absences across all areas of the workforce.

The government has currently ruled out reducing the isolation period until they have more scientific understanding
The government has currently ruled out reducing the isolation period until they have more scientific understanding. Picture: Getty Images

However, Mr Zahawi said it was important to remember that in the UK isolation begins when you get symptoms, while in the US it starts from when you test positive.

He also added to the BBC that there is a risk of a higher spike in cases if the period was cut from seven to five days, adding the government would follow the science and keep this under review.

In America, patients don’t have to take a lateral flow test to end their isolation, but they are asked to wear a mask for five days when around other people.

But Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick told Daily Mail: “If we were to cut isolation time to five days, it would require strict enforcement of lateral flow testing before ending isolation and, of course, no problems with the availability of these tests.”

This comes after Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said the reduction of self-isolation from 10 to seven days will ‘reduce the disruption from COVID-19 to people’s everyday lives.’

He said: “Following advice from our clinical experts we are reducing the self-isolation period from 10 days to 7 if you test negative on a LFD test for 2 days running.

“It’s vital people keep playing their part by testing regularly and isolating if they test positive. And I urge you to Get Boosted Now to protect yourself and those around you.”