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'Pingdemic' over: No10 confirms end to self-isolation for double jabbed from Monday
11 August 2021, 22:33 | Updated: 11 August 2021, 22:44
From Monday, people who are double jabbed or aged under 18 will no longer be legally required to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case, the government has confirmed.
No10 announced the plans to scrap self-isolation for those who are fully vaccinated last month, under step four of the roadmap out of the coronavirus lockdown.
This means that from Monday, adults and children will be free to return to work, attend school, and meet friends and family as the protection from vaccines replaces the need for contact isolation.
Instead of self-isolating, those who are double jabbed and under 18s identified as close contacts of positive cases are advised to get a free PCR test as soon as possible, instead of isolating at home for 10 days.
They must be fully vaccinated at least 14 days prior to coming into contact with a positive case in order to avoid isolating.
The move follows the success of the vaccine rollout in the UK, with more than 75% of adults now double jabbed. The latest data from Public Health England and Cambridge University shows that around 60,000 deaths, 22 million infections and 66,900 hospitalisations have been prevented by the vaccines.
As double jabbed people identified as close contacts are still at risk of being infected, people are advised to consider other precautions such as wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces, and limit contact with other people, especially with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable. They will not be required to self-isolate while they wait for the results of the PCR test, which can be ordered online, by calling 119, or going to a test site.
If you test positive for coronavirus you will still be legally required to self-isolate, irrespective of vaccination status.
Anyone who develops symptoms of the disease - which include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste - should self-isolate and get a PCR test, and remain in isolation until the result comes back.
The vaccine previously allowed critical workers to leave self-isolation to ensure vital services continued. The changes introduced on Monday (August 16) will mean that, with some additional precautions for health and care settings, fully vaccinated contacts will routinely be able to attend work if they do not have symptoms.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said vaccines are what "will bring this pandemic to an end".
“Asking the close contacts of people with Covid-19 to self-isolate has played a critical role in helping us get this virus under control, and millions of people across the UK have made enormous sacrifices by doing this," he said.
"Every single one of these sacrifices has helped us protect the NHS and save lives.
“Getting two doses of a vaccine has tipped the odds in our favour and allowed us to safely reclaim our lost freedoms, and from Monday we can take another huge step back towards our normal lives by removing self-isolation requirements for double jabbed people who are contacts of people with Covid-19. Double jabbed people who test positive will still need to self-isolate.
“Vaccines are what will bring this pandemic to an end – the wall of defence provided by the rollout is allowing us to get even closer to normal life. If you haven’t already, please make sure you come forward for your jab at the earliest opportunity.”
Removing self-isolation for under 18s comes ahead of thousands of pupils and students returning to school and college for the autumn term in September, and is a crucial step to reduce disruption to education and keep children in the classroom.
In one week in June, 375,000 children did not attend school for a Covid-related reason, figures from the Department for Education showed.
Dame Rachel de Souza, the new Children's Commissioner for England, said the current rules were "incredibly frustrating" for teachers and pupils and that lockdown and impacted young people's mental health.
In line with step four, ‘bubbles’ will end for all children under 18, social distancing will no longer be necessary, and schools will not need to stagger start and finish times.
Two onsite tests should be taken by each secondary school and college student on return, followed by twice weekly testing at home. The government will review testing requirements by the end of September.
UK Health Security Agency Chief Executive (UKHSA), Dr Jenny Harries said: “Thanks to the huge success of the vaccine programme, we are able to ease self-isolation requirements for double jabbed people and under 18s. It is important that close contacts continue to come forward for a PCR test, in order to detect the virus and variants of concern.
"Although two doses of vaccine will greatly reduce your own risk of becoming unwell with Covid-19, it is still possible to contract the virus and pass it to others. So if you develop symptoms at any time – vaccinated or not – you should get a test and be very careful in your contact with others until you have received a negative test result."
A recent poll by LBC found that most people aren’t self-isolating for the full 10 days despite being told to do so by the NHS Test and Trace App.
Our polling of 1,000 people found 50% (523) had downloaded the NHS app, with a further 26% getting “pinged” at least once with an alert to self-isolate.
Under half of respondents (46%) said they adhered to the ‘legally non-binding’ instruction to stay at home for up to 10 days. That means more than half of people polled did not isolate for the full length of time.
What’s more, despite the risks to others, 15% said they still went to work, 12% to places like cafes, cinemas and restaurants, and another 12% still saw friends or relatives who are ‘clinically vulnerable.’
Dr Deepti Gurdasani, Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University says more should have been done financially to encourage people to isolate.
She said: “One of the reasons with this problem is that people aren’t being supported properly to isolate.“This is a problem that hasn’t been addressed, despite billions going into the test, trace and isolate system.”
The scrapping of self-isolation for the double jabbed and under 18s will come into effect on Monday.