Sajid Javid To Give Major Covid Update In Parliament Today
Health Secretary Sajid Javid is set to announce a big change to coronavirus regulations.
The announcement will take place at the House of Commons and is set to address what other changes could be put into place to try and ease the strain the NHS has been placed under as a result of the surge in cases caused by the Omicron variant.
Omicron has been proven by multiple studies to be milder in vaccinated patients than other variants of coronavirus. However, it is thought to be more easily transmissible, The Sun reports.
Johnson first reduced the isolation period from 10 days to seven in a bid to tackle increasing work absences, however the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has warned against a further reduction to five days.
It estimates that the shortening of the period any further could result in a higher rate of infections.
The UKHSA has sent its findings to the Cabinet Office.
Absences in workplaces are said to have risen despite the adaptation of the rules, and Javid has agreed with the UKHSA.
However, the government’s Covid-O committee is set to meet today at parliament, where the even shorter isolation period of just five days is expected to be signed off.
Professor from the Zoe Covid Symptom Study, Tim Spector, explained that while Omicron is ‘even better at infecting us’, its symptoms ‘are of shorter duration that they are of Delta’.
[You] can’t put an exact figure on it, but that’s eyeballing data.
[…] People are having symptoms for a shorter amount of time, especially in that first week. It suggests that the isolation period of a week could be reduced to five days.
If people are testing negative with lateral flow tests at the end of those five days because the whole period of that infection and getting over it appears to be faster.
‘Hospitals being unmanned is far worse risk than the occasional bit of Covid slipping through,’ Spector said.
Under current rules, which specify that a person can leave isolation after seven days after two negative lateral flow results, 6% of people are estimated as leaving isolation while still infectious.
That percentage is estimated to rise to around 8% if the isolation period is reduced further to five days.
‘It’s a sliding scale of risk and it’s up to ministers to make the trade-offs. If they think the risk to key workers not being at work or the economy not running as fast as it could is bigger than the risk of infection, it’s up to them,’ a spokesperson said.