Sajid Javid: Govt not looking at cutting self-isolation period to five days

4 January 2022, 15:39 | Updated: 4 January 2022, 16:30

The government will not cut the self isolation period for those who test positive for Covid
The government will not cut the self isolation period for those who test positive for Covid. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

The Health Secretary has confirmed the government is not planning to cut the isolation period for those who test positive for coronavirus to five days.

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Speaking after visiting a vaccination centre in south London, Sajid Javid told broadcasters: "Our decisions are based on the very latest evidence.

"So we're quite clear where we are with your seven days, but you know, you need those two negative lateral flow tests in the final two days, is the right balanced proportionate approach."

Calls for the isolation period to be slashed come after record levels of coronavirus infections across the UK have placed a strain on key services, including on the NHS.

The self isolation period was previously reduced from 10 days to 7 days, following two negative lateral flow tests taken on day 6 and day 7 after symptoms start.

The UK Health and Security Agency said the revised guidance was introduced to support essential public services and supply chains over the winter, while still limiting the spread of the virus.

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But despite the new guidance, the UK is still facing a staffing shortage with Whitehall departments considering whether military aid might be required if staff absences soar.

Downing Street said departments were considering whether military aid to the civil authorities (Maca) requests would be useful, but there was no blanket requirement to do so.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "All departments have been asked to look at how they would mitigate against large-scale absences across their relevant workforces, up to 25%.

"In some circumstances that might require making a Maca request, a military aid request, in other circumstances it might not.

"There is no blanket requirement for military aid."

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The Prime Minister is also set to address the nation from 5pm today as experts warned the NHS is "in a state of crisis", with up to a million people understood to be off sick due to Covid isolation.

The University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have all confirmed they declared internal critical incidents.

The Cabinet is set to meet today to discuss the Omicron situation and any new measures would be raised in Parliament on Wednesday.

Boris Johnson admitted the NHS would come under "considerable" pressure in the coming weeks, as Omicron spreads through the UK, but believed Plan B measures would work.