Calls for a return of 10-day Covid isolation as scientists say most people still infectious after five

CALLS for Brits to be forced back into isolation if they get Covid have been made – as scientists say people are still infectious after five days.

Self isolation periods were scrapped after a mammoth vaccine rollout across the UK.


Scientists have said Brits who get the bug should be isolating for up to ten daysCredit: Reuters

That coupled with prior infection, and the fact that Omicron strains are less severe than those that came before it, has meant Brits can get back to normality.

The most recent data from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) states that across the country, Covid infections have decreased in the last week.

Director of clinical programmes at the UKHSA, Dr Mary Ramsay said it’s very encouraging that case rates and hospitalisations are now at low levels.

But despite this, scientists have said Brits who get the bug should be isolating for up to ten days.

Writing in the Lancet, medics found that two thirds of Brits who catch the bug are still contagious after five days.

Experts at Imperial College London looked at 57 patients who were exposed to the virus.

They found that people were less contagious as time passed and added that they were most infectious after five days.

But, they also noted that one quarter of the participants were still infectious after seven days.

They monitored people closely from when they were first exposed – to when they stopped being infectious.

Author of the study  Prof Ajit Lalvani, from Imperial College London said: “Before this study we were missing half of the picture about infectiousness, because it’s hard to know when people are first exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and when they first become infectious.

“By using special daily tests to measure infectious virus and daily symptom records we were able to define the window in which people are infectious.

“This is fundamental to controlling any pandemic and has not been previously defined for any respiratory infection in the community.”

Self-isolation is not the law in the UK, with current guidance stating that you should ‘try and stay at home and avoid contact with people for five days’.

The 20 Covid symptoms you need to know

Here are the top 20 Covid symptoms based on data from the Zoe Symptom Tracker app and the percentage of people who have experienced them

  1. Sore throat (58 per cent)
  2. Headache (47 per cent)
  3. Cough no phlegm (43 per cent)
  4. Blocked nose (41 per cent)
  5. Runny nose (39 per cent)
  6. Cough with phlegm (38 per cent)
  7. Hoarse voice (37 per cent)
  8. Sneezing (31 per cent)
  9. Fatigue (31 per cent)
  10. Muscle pain and aches (25 per cent)
  11. Dizzy light headed (19 per cent)
  12. Swollen neck glands (15 per cent)
  13. Altered smell (14 per cent)
  14. Fever (13 per cent)
  15. Eye soreness (13 per cent)
  16. Chest pain tightness (12 per cent)
  17. Loss of smell (12 per cent)
  18. Shortness of breath (11 per cent)
  19. Hot flushes (11 per cent)
  20. Chills or shivers (11 per cent)

You should also avoid meeting people who are at high risk from Covid for 10 days.

However, many companies no longer pay their employees to self-isolate if they have the bug – meaning Brits will lose money from self-isolating – all in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

But the medics stated that not isolating is allowing cases to spread in the community: “Our empirical data suggest that a crude 5-day self-isolation period releases two-thirds of still-infectious cases into the community, albeit with a 43 per cent reduction in mean log-infectious viral load relative to peak viral load.

“Whereas by 7 days post-symptom onset, one-third are still infectious with an 83 per cent reduction in infectious viral load. Such evidence could enable policy makers, and the public, to calibrate self-isolation guidance.”

Participants in the study had access to tests, something the scientists say should also be available to all to help stop the spread.

They state that two negative lateral flow tests should be taken – before an isolation period of five to ten days.

The most recent data from the Office of National Statistics suggests that just one in 25 people in England currently have Covid, down from with one in 20 in July.

Despite the drop in cases, medics have warned that there is still a lot of Covid around. 

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Dr Gayatri Amirthalingam, deputy director of public health programmes at UKHSA added: “People aged 75 and over remain at particular risk of severe disease if they are not up to date with their vaccinations.”

“We urge anyone who is not up to date with their jabs to come forward to give themselves the best possible protection.”

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