U.K. Shortens Self-Isolation Period for Covid to 10 Days

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The U.K. is shortening the self-isolation window for people exposed to the coronavirus to 10 days from 14, saying a review of the evidence justifies easing the restriction.

The change takes effect on Monday in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and it’s already the policy in Wales. People who test positive should self-isolate for 10 days from the start of symptoms, or from the date of their test if they’re asymptomatic, and the countdown starts for close contacts the day after exposure.

People returning from countries that aren’t part of the corridor for quarantine-free travel should likewise self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14, according to a joint statement from chief medical officers of the four regions.

“We are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate,” the officials said. “We urge everyone to self-isolate when appropriate; it will save lives.”

Advocates of reducing self-isolation periods argue that doing so will increase compliance. Only about 20% of people with Covid-19 symptoms in the U.K. were properly isolating at home over the summer, a government advisory panel said earlier.

The U.K. change will also apply to anyone who began self-isolating before Monday. The NHS Test and Trace service will update its guidance at that point and the passenger locator will also change. The NHS Covid-19 app won’t reflect the shift until Thursday, so anyone who gets a notification saying they need to isolate can stop doing so when the countdown timer hits three days, the statement said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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