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Government announces important change to COVID isolation rules

22nd Dec 2021 / By Alistair Driver

People infected with COVID-19 in England can now stop self-isolating after seven days, under new rules annoounced today. 

The isolation has been reduced from to seven days, as long as infected people have provided negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven, with tests taken 24 hours apart.

Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 7 are strongly advised to limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID- 19.

There is no change to the guidance for unvaccinated contacts of positive COVID-19 cases, who are still required to self-isolate for 10 full days after their date of exposure to the virus.

The Government said analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggests that a 7-day isolation period alongside 2 negative lateral flow test results has nearly the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period without LFD testing for people with COVID-19.

The new approach reflects latest evidence on how long cases transmit the virus for, and supports essential public services and supply chains over the winter, while still limiting the spread of the virus. Studies also demonstrate that LFD tests are just as sensitive at detecting the Omicron variant, as they are for Delta.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "We want to reduce the disruption from COVID-19 to people’s everyday lives. 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."