The British government said on Thursday it will shorten the minimum self-isolation period for people with Covid-19 in England from seven to five days to boost economic activity.
In a statement to MPs announcing the change, Health Minister Sajid Javid said the government had revised policies to ensure it maximized “activity in the economy” and reduced “the risk of contagious people coming out of isolation”. minimum limited.
“Any restriction on our freedoms should be an absolute last resort and that we should not keep them in place for a day longer than absolutely necessary,” added Javid.
The new rules, which come into effect from Monday, will instead require people with coronavirus to test negative on a lateral flow device on days five and six to end their isolation.
It follows the government that cut the quarantine period in England from 10 to seven days in December as it tried to mitigate the effects of an unprecedented wave of new cases sparked by the Omicron variant.
The United States also moved to a five-day isolation period last month.
Javid noted that data from the UK Health Security Agency showed that about two-thirds of positive Covid cases were no longer contagious by the end of day five of staying home.
“We want to use the testing capacity we’ve built to help these people come out of isolation safely,” he told lawmakers.
Britain — one of the hardest hit countries in Europe by the pandemic, with more than 150,000 dead — has seen the massive surge in Omicron cases that started last month ease somewhat in recent days.
But after weeks of record infections, millions of people have been forced to self-isolate, putting pressure on staff in key areas such as healthcare and education.
The government hopes that the shortening of the mandatory isolation period will help reduce the staff shortage, in addition to an earlier change that allows close contacts to test daily rather than staying at home.
It comes as official data released last month showed Britain’s economic recovery from the effects of a pandemic in the third quarter of 2021 slowed more than previously thought, even before the arrival of Omicron.
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