Covid-19 self-isolation period in England to be cut to five days, Sajid Javid announces

The amount of time people with Covid-19 in England have to spend in self-isolation is to be cut to five full days, the Health Secretary has said.

Sajid Javid told MPs in the House of Commons that UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data showed “that around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five”.

He said that, from Monday, people will be able to take two tests to get out of isolation, “leaving isolation at the start of day six”.

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The Government has been under pressure to bring the situation in England into line with the United States, where the isolation period has been cut to five days.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced the change in the House of Commons.

The previous UK Health Security Agency guidance was for cases to isolate for at least six full days from the point at which they had symptoms or got a positive test, whichever is first, with release from self-isolation after two negative lateral flow test results on days six and seven.

People could then leave self-isolation on day seven.

Mr Javid told the Commons: “UKHSA data shows that around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five and we want to use the testing capacity that we’ve built up to help these people leave isolation safely.

“After reviewing all of the evidence, we’ve made the decision to reduce the minimum self-isolation period to five full days in England.

“From Monday, people can test twice before they go – leaving isolation at the start of day six.

“These two tests are critical to these balanced and proportionate plans, and I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the capacity we have built up in tests so we can restore the freedoms to this country while we’re keeping everyone safe.”

Testing should be “sorted out”, Labour said, as it welcomed the reduction in Covid isolation to five days if there were consistent negative test results.

Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told MPs: “We welcome the announcement the Secretary of State has made on the reduction of the Covid isolation period to five days on condition that two negative tests are produced, so let’s hope the Secretary of State sorts out testing.

“Before Christmas he told use there was no issue with supply but over Christmas NHS staff and other keyworkers were unable to access tests because the Government hadn’t noticed that the deliveries had shut up shop for Christmas.”

Sajid Javid replied there was “not one word of thanks from him to the NHS, the volunteers, the military and everyone who helped” with the booster rollout.

He added: “It will be noted by the British public.”