Covid self-isolation period slashed from 10 days to just a week – freeing up to 280,000 Brits to enjoy Christmas

THE Covid-19 isolation period has been slashed from ten days to just seven – freeing up to 280,000 Brits to enjoy Christmas.

Ministers have announced that people now only need to take two lateral flow tests – the first on day six and the second 24 hours later.

If both come back negative, they can be free from isolation – but will be urged to limit contact, wear face masks in public and work from home if they can.

It means that up to 280,000 Brits can now spend Christmas with their families.

The figure includes the 102,875 people who tested positive on December 15, the 95,058 from December 16, and the 82,945 from December 17.

UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive Dr Jenny Harries said: “This new guidance will help break chains of transmission and minimise the impact on lives and livelihoods.”

She said it was crucial people carried out the tests.

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 ten days to seven if you test negative for two days running.”

The move will reduce pressure on employees working while others are self-isolating owing to the Omicron wave.

The British Medical Association has warned as many as 50,000 NHS staff will be  self-isolating by Christmas Day.

NHS Employers boss Danny Mortimer said wide-scale disruption was inevitable if cases went on rising at a rapid rate.

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He said reports suggested 130,000 mental health, ambulance, community and hospitals staff could be off on Christmas Day.

He said: “With bed occupancy at 93 per cent, this is increasingly worrying.”

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