UK reduces its COVID isolation period to 7 days

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UK reduces its COVID isolation period to 7 days

The UK is reducing its COVID-19 isolation period from 10 to seven days starting Wednesday for people who get a negative rapid test two days in a row.

The UK Health Security Agency, which is the equivalent of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made the decision as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country.

As cases surge, many industries have been left short-staffed in the past week as workers who test positive have to isolate.

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

The British health agency said its analysis suggested a seven-day isolation period alongside two negative tests had nearly the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period without testing.

Those who receive a negative result on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period, with tests taken 24 hours apart, will no longer have to isolate for 10 days, the government said.

Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the lowering of the isolation restrictions is aimed at reducing the “disruption” of the virus.
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Health officials are strongly advising that those who do leave isolation after seven days limit their contact with others in crowded spaces and work from home where possible.

“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,” the agency said.

A growing number of medical experts in the US are calling on the Biden administration to adopt a similar recommendation.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that health officials were considering easing the CDC’s current 10-day isolation guideline for fully vaccinated people — particularly health care workers — who test positive for COVID-19 but no longer have symptoms.

UK covid
Cases of the Omicron variant have rapidly spread through the UK.
AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Given the sweeping Omicron variant, critics argue the current isolation window could eventually cripple hospitals and the economy if an influx of employees who can’t work remotely are forced to quarantine the full 10 days.

This “one-size-fits-all 10-day period” is unnecessary for many people and “extremely disruptive,” Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, told The Post.

“A realistic isolation period is one which lasts so long as contagiousness lasts. It may be as short as a few days in some people and longer in others,” he said.

The public health experts who back a shorter isolation window say the longer restriction doesn’t make sense for the fully vaxxed because data suggests vaccinated people appear to shed the virus — meaning they stop being contagious — faster than those who haven’t received their shots.

Dr. Fauci
Dr. Fauci said health officials were considering easing the CDC’s current 10-day isolation guideline for fully vaccinated people.
Leigh Vogel/UPI/Shutterstock

Carlos del Rio, a professor of medicine in infectious diseases at Emory University School of Medicine, told The Post that by using the 10-day quarantine guideline, the feds “are treating everyone the same, and the data shows they are not the same.”

He said vaccinated people who get COVID but have minimal to low symptoms should only have to isolate for “five to six days max” — provided they get a negative test before they stop quarantining.

With Post wires

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