UK extends COVID-19 self-isolation to 10 days from 7

Travelers heading to Manchester, UK, queue up at the check-in in San Bartolome airport in Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain. EPA-EFE/JAVIER FUENTES FIGUEROA

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Anyone who tests positive or shows symptoms of COVID-19 in Britain will have to self-isolate for 10 days instead of the previous seven, based on a low but tangible possibility that people could remain infectious for longer.

“In symptomatic people COVID-19 is most infectious just before, and for the first few days after symptoms begin,” the UK chief medical officers said in a statement on Thursday.

“Evidence, although still limited, has strengthened and shows that people with COVID-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between 7 and 9 days after illness onset.”

The government said the change in the rule would come into force immediately

Earlier, health minister Matt Hancock said Britain is working on possible ways to shorten the quarantine period imposed on people coming from Spain, which currently stands at 14 days, but will not be changing the guidelines in the next few days.

“We are working on whether by testing people during that quarantine it is safe to then be able to release them earlier … But we are not imminently making an announcement on it,” Hancock said during an interview on BBC television on Thursday.

“That work is not concluded. Until it is absolutely safe to make that sort of change then we won’t do so … We won’t be making changes on that in the next few days.”

Hancock added he was worried about a second wave of coronavirus infections in Europe and that the government would not hesitate to act to bring back quarantine measures if necessary to keep Britain safe.

Britain last week re-imposed a 14-day quarantine period on people arriving from Spain. Some other European countries which are currently exempt from the British quarantine measures have seen infections rise, Hancock said, without naming them.

“I am worried about a second wave. I think you can see a second wave starting to roll across Europe, and we’ve got to do everything we can to prevent it from reaching these shores, and to tackle it,” Hancock said during an interview on Sky News.

“We have significant concerns about the second wave that is coming across Europe. And it’s not just Spain … but there are other countries too where the number of cases is rising. And we are absolutely determined to do everything that we can to keep this country safe,” he said.

Hancock said the authorities were working on possible ways to shorten the quarantine period for people coming from Spain but no change was imminent.

“We are working on whether by testing people during that quarantine it is safe to then be able to release them earlier … But we are not imminently making an announcement on it,” he said in a BBC television interview.

“That work is not concluded. Until it is absolutely safe to make that sort of change then we won’t do so … We won’t be making changes on that in the next few days.”

s2.reutersmedia.net

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