Covid isolation cut to 5 days for virus-hit England with negative test

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Covid isolation has been cut to five days for people in England if they return a negative test.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid revealed to the House of Commons that the isolation period for those in England infected with coronavirus will be reduced.

The latest changes will allow people to stop quarantining once they test negative on days five and six, Mr Javid told MPs on Thursday.

But the Health Secretary warned that the "virus is still with us" and said there are "still likely to be difficult weeks ahead."

"There will be more variants and no one can be sure what threat they might pose," he added.

He also highlighted that data from the UK Health Security Agency shows about two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by end of day five.

The news comes just one day after Boris Johnson said a decision would be made “as fast as possible” following pressure to make changes to the isolation period in England.

The Government faced calls to follow the United States with their choice to dramatically cut the length of time to less than a week.

Sajid Javid told the Commons ONS data shows "encouraging signs that infections are falling in London and the east of England".

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"But we're still currently seeing infections rise in other parts of the country. And the data does not, as of yet, reflect the impact of people returning to work and school. So, we must proceed with caution."

Up until now, UK Health Security Agency guidance has been for people to isolate for at least six full days from the point at which they have symptoms or get a positive test, whichever is first, with the release from self-isolation after two negative lateral flow test results on days six and seven.

People have been able to leave the self-isolation on day seven.

The changes are expected to see people being allowed to leave self-isolation after completing five full days of quarantine.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said: ” We are certainly looking at reducing the isolation period, and we hope to bring you more about that… as fast as possible.”

The decision is likely to be welcomed by Tories who have called for the change and could help ease pressure on the embattled Prime Minister.

It will also help address staff shortages across the economy and public services by allowing people to return to work earlier.

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