Fears of another ‘pingdemic’, following staff shortages in key industries, have led Health Secretary Sajid Javid to change the guidance surrounding isolation – with some people now able to make it to their Christmas plans
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Omicron is sweeping the nation at an alarming rate, as this week daily case numbers of Covid-19 smashed through the 100,000 mark.
The current wave is causing the highest number of cases per day seen in the UK at any point during the pandemic.
While early studies indicate that the new variant is milder than its predecessors, anxieties still remain high with hospitalisations forecast and the threat of new restrictions ever-present.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has, however, said no new restrictions will be introduced before Christmas.
The sharp rise in cases and subsequent isolations has caused staff shortages similar to the so-called ‘pingdemic’ earlier this year.
In response to this, the Health Secretary has changed the number of days people have to isolate in an attempt to minimise disruption.
Staff shortages have been reported in rail services, health services and businesses.
Some train journeys are thought to have been cancelled due to staff sickness.
How long do I need to isolate for after testing positive for covid?
While people previously had to isolate for 10 days following a positive test, this number has now been reduced to seven.
Getting out of isolation three days early is dependent on people returning two negative Covid tests on days six and seven.
The aim is to minimise disruption while following the latest guidance from health experts.
However, the new guidance does not change anything for unvaccinated people who test positive, as they will still need to isolate for the full 10-day period and until they present a negative lateral flow test.
This new change means some people may be able to get out of isolation early though – and might make it to Christmas plans when they couldn’t have attended before.
If you are still experiencing symptoms, this does not apply and you must continue to isolate until you have a negative lateral flow test.
People ending isolation early are still strongly advised against coming into contact with vulnerable people.
The three-day early exit from isolation will remain only as guidance until it is brought into law after parliament returns from its Christmas break.
The Government says until then, the two negative tests will count as a “reasonable excuse” to leave isolation.
What do I do if I test positive for covid?
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At the time of writing, all people who test positive for the virus must isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
However, vaccinated isolators will now have the option to leave after seven days and two negative tests (on days six and seven) following the change in guidance.
If you are unvaccinated and come into contact with someone who has had the virus you must still isolate for 10 days.
People are being encouraged to report the results of lateral flow tests to the Government, although it is believed this will not be required to leave isolation.
If you test positive do not leave your home and inform any close contacts you have had over the previous days.