Ministers were urged to reduce the Covid isolation time from 7 to 5 days. Experts warned that a shortage of NHS staff is a greater threat than increasing patient numbers.

The Health Secretary has already reduced quarantine from 10 to seven days in England while in the US it has been cut from 10 days to five for people who are asymptomatic and can wear a mask around people for another five days.

Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are yet to change.  

Lord Bilimoria was the president of Confederation of British Industry (CBI). He pointed out, among other things, that Omicron’s first detection in South Africa had meant that South Africa has dropped its requirement for asymptomatic people to be self-isolated.  

Up to 800,000 people are thought to be in isolation as the new variant wreaks havoc on businesses throughout Christmas by forcing people to stay at home.

Sir John Bell who is an immunologist, has advised Government on Covid. However, he said Britain could even go further by replicating the US with lateral flow testing. The swabs were a “very good way to mark who is infected” according to Sir John Bell, who spoke on BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Paul Hunter is an infectious disease specialist from University of East Anglia. He said that eventually, Covid-infected individuals will be able to “go about their normal lives” as they would for a cold. 

Theresa Villiers, a former Tory minister said that the government should seriously look at decreasing mandatory isolation periods.

Union leaders have warned that this ultra-transmissible variant is rapidly spreading and could cause a crisis in the NHS, as well as other public services. 

Ministers already reduced the time for isolation to seven days. Covid patients will be able to test positive twice by the end of the week. 

Kate Nicholls, from UK Hospitality, said dropping the quarantine requirements by three days has ‘already reduced staff absences in the food supply chain.’  

However, Test & Trace is still telling people to quarantine for 10 days despite the updated advice, reports The Telegraph.

Ministers have been urged to cut the Covid isolation period from seven to five days with experts warning that NHS staff shortages pose a bigger threat than rising patient numbers

Ministers were urged to reduce the Covid isolation time from 7 to 5 days. Experts warned that a shortage of NHS staff is a greater threat than increasing patient numbers.

Union bosses have also warned the ultra-transmissible variant's rapid spread has left the NHS and other public sectors in a 'perilous state'

Union leaders have warned that this ultra-transmissible variant is spreading rapidly and could cause the NHS, as well as other public services to be in a “perilous” state.

How safe is it to remove the 10-day quarantine? 

For how long is someone infectious?

Some academics argue that Britain’s Covid could have its self-isolation sentence reduced to five days.

The data suggests that approximately 98% of viruses are transmitted before symptoms appear or within five days. 

An infectious disease specialist from the University of St Andrews Dr Muge Cevik stated earlier in the year that the isolate period for cases could be shorter because most transmission occurs very early.

“Viral load spikes quickly so that people become highly infected within the first few days. 

What is the maximum time that Covid positive patients can test positive?

Using lateral flow tests that take less than 15 minutes to provide results, it is ideal for identifying people most susceptible. 

In samples from the throat and nose, they look for antigens (viral proteins).

However, the kits have a lower sensitivity than gold-standardPCRs. These PCRs send swabs to labs to analyse for viruses. 

This means that they will be less likely than others to detect someone infected. However, they may also not give positive results if someone is more severe and has a higher viral load.

The PCRs on the other side are very sensitive and can detect the presence of virus fragments even long after illness has passed.

Positive PCR results do not automatically mean that someone has remained contagious. 

Professor Hunter stated that No10 would have to completely relax rules at some time, and said it might need to occur’sooner than later. Hunter suggested that rules might be relaxed ‘once Easter is over’.

However, he acknowledged that it is premature to remove quarantine restrictions right now as the virus still causes severe diseases.

According to him, the subject would need to be addressed ‘fairly quickly’ as the virus is likely to eventually be considered a common cold-causing agent and will not warrant reporting daily cases.

He said that the NHS shortages are due to people being forced to isolate.

“The infection isn’t going away. But, it’s not likely that we will see the severe illness for long.

“Ultimately, people with positive Covid will be allowed to live their lives just like any other person with a cold. This is why we have to let it go at some point.

If the Covid pain is caused by self-isolation rules, then it’s time to change them sooner rather than later. Perhaps not yet. 

Sir John said that this winter’s greatest threat to the NHS is not an influx in severely ill patients but losing staff members who need to be quarantined. 

According to him, there were two problems. One is the impact of quarantining contacts — and of course those numbers have gone.

“And the stress that the health system is currently experiencing, especially in London, because of the loss in staff who are quarantining after being in contact, is because of the effects of this.” [with someone testing positive for Covid].

“So I think that there will soon emerge a workforce crisis from this.”

Sir John continued: ‘The important other aspect of this is, despite multiple waves — and that includes Delta but it also includes Alpha and Omicron — the incidence of severe disease and death from this disease has basically not changed since we all got vaccinated.

‘And that is really important to remember because the horrific scenes we saw a year ago — intensive care units being full, lots of people dying prematurely — that is now history in my view and I think we should be reassured that that is likely to continue.’ 

He was asked about his thoughts on the US rule changes, and if he wanted to see an equivalent drop in isolation in Britain.

My view is that the lateral flow test is a great way to determine who’s infectious. We’ve seen a drop in time from 10 days up to seven days when you do sequential lateralflow tests.

It is easier to determine if people who have been infected are allowed back into our community.

When asked if he would support a 5-day quarantine, he replied: “If it was supported with lateral flow data. 

Yesterday, US health officials reduced isolation for coronavirus-infected Americans to 10 to 5 days and shortened quarantine time.

Officials at the CDC stated that the guidelines are consistent with increasing evidence that those with the virus can become most infected in the days immediately before symptoms appear and the days following.

Ministers have already squeezed the isolation period to seven days, providing Covid sufferers test negative twice at the end of their week of quarantine. But Sir John Bell (pictured), an immunologist who has advised the Government on Covid, said Britain could go even further and replicate the US by relying on lateral flow tests

Ministers reduced the period of isolation from seven to one week, ensuring that Covid victims test negative two times at the conclusion of the quarantine. Sir John Bell (pictured), an immunologist, who advised the Government about Covid, suggested that Britain might go further than the US and rely on lateral flows tests

And Professor Paul Hunter (pictured), an infectious disease expert from the University of East Anglia, said eventually Covid-infected people need to be allowed to 'go about their normal lives' as they would with a cold

Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases expert at the University of East Anglia said Covid-infected patients should be allowed “to go about their normal life” just like they do with a cold.

This decision was also driven by an increase in Covid infection, fueled by Omicron.

Initial research indicates that Omicron might cause milder illness than the earlier coronavirus versions. 

Experts say that the infected population is increasing and will make it difficult for airlines, hospitals and other business to keep their doors open.

Rochelle Walensky, the director of CDC warned last night that Omicron infections are imminent.

“Not all cases will be severe,” she said. Many will actually be asymptomatic. 

“We need a way to ensure society can continue functioning and following science.”

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky (pictured) said the country is about to see a lot of Omicron cases: 'Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact many are going to be asymptomatic. We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.'

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky (pictured) said the country is about to see a lot of Omicron cases: ‘Not all of those cases are going to be severe. Many of those cases will be mild to moderate. “We want to be sure that there’s a way to safely keep society running while we follow the science.”

According to the CDC, people who experience symptoms while in isolation or during quarantine should stay home.  

The agency relaxed rules last week that required health workers to be off work for a minimum of 10 days after obtaining a positive test. 

According to the new guidelines, workers can return to work within seven days of testing negative for symptoms. 

According to the agency, isolation times could be cut down to five days, or even less, in severe cases of staff shortages.  

Chris Hopson today, the Chief Executive of NHS Providers dismissed any suggestion that Covid infected workers at healthcare facilities should soon be able go about their regular lives.

BBC Breakfast was informed by him that this clearly wouldn’t and shouldn’t apply to NHS employees. I find it very stupid to even suggest such a thing.

“What has been helpful is that the self-isolation time was reduced from 10 to 7 if there are two lateral flow test results and they come back negative.

“But, in terms of NHS staff it’s essential that we protect patients inside our hospitals and inside our healthcare settings. We also need to protect them against infection because they are potentially very, very vulnerable.

“As regards the larger society, obviously that’s something we should be looking at.”

A Government spokesman said: ‘The isolation period for positive Covid-19 cases is critical for limiting the spread of the virus.

‘Anyone who takes a negative lateral flow test on day six and seven of their self-isolation period can end their isolation early… there are no further changes to the isolation period planned at this time, but we keep all rules under review based on the latest health data.’

The most up-to-date figures reveal there were 842 Covid patients in intensive care on ventilators – the lowest level in two months

The most up-to-date figures reveal there were 842 Covid patients in intensive care on ventilators – the lowest level in two months

UK vs. USA: How do the Covid isolation Rules differ 


Current quarantine and isolation rules in Britain differ based upon where you live and how vaccinated you are.

England currently requires that fully-vaccinated adults only isolate after they test positive for the virus.

If you have symptoms or test positive for PCR, the rules state that:

  • When you are positive, the clock begins.
  • A person infected can be freed from isolation within 7 days, provided they’ve tested positive on both lateral flow and blood tests.
  • Before the sixth day of isolation, you should take the first test.

The same rules are applicable to unvaccinated household members.

Although vaccinated individuals are legally not allowed to keep them in quarantine, they should still test each day for at least seven days. 

These rules may be slightly different in the UK, but they are generally similar.  


People who have been infected should be isolated. The rules are applicable to all people, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated, or unvaccinated.

It is said:

  • When you are positive, the clock begins.
  • Instead of being isolated for 10 days, an infected individual should stay in isolation for five days.
  • You can resume your normal activities after five days if there are no signs or symptoms. But you need to wear a mask for at least five more consecutive days.
  • After five days on isolating, if symptoms persist after five days you can return home and start five more days wearing a face mask.

The Quarantine Rules are only for those who had close contact with infected persons but were not themselves infected.

Once someone has been alerted they could have been affected by the virus, their clock will start.

Previously the CDC stated that anyone who had not been fully vaccinated, or came into close contact in any way with an infected individual should be kept away from home for no less than 10 days.

The agency now says that only booster shot recipients can be allowed to skip quarantine, provided they don’t wear any masks for more than 10 days.

It’s an important change. Previously, people who were fully vaccinated — which the CDC has defined as having two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — could be exempt from quarantine.

People who received their booster shots and did not get the initial shot are now in the exact same situation. After five days, they can be released from quarantine if they don’t wear any masks. 

UK is in crisis over Covid staffing: The unions have warned Omicron has caused a panic in the public sector, with bin collections being threatened and recycling centres closing. London flights grounded. Train services are suspended indefinitely.

Omicron, warned unions today that public services are in an ‘inflictious state’. Bin collections were under threat and recycling centers had to close. Flights were cancelled and flights grounded.

Lewisham council stated that the main reuse and recycling center will remain closed until Wednesday. Black bin collections will also be taken into consideration in case there are delays with recycling collection. 

The Rail Delivery Group reported that 6.8% of all trains in the country were cancelled yesterday, which is lower than an average annual rate of 2.9%. Warwickshire trains have been suspended indefinitely, which affected service between Leamington Spa and Nuneaton.

FlightAware data indicates that more than 2200 international flights were cancelled yesterday. Heathrow also cancelled 60 flights Sunday. Gatwick reported that it received only three cancellations on Sunday out of 215 flights, while none yesterday. 

Lewisham council announced its main reuse and recycling centre (pic) will be shut until Wednesday and black bin collections would be prioritised in the event of delays to recycling collections

Lewisham council has announced that its main recycling and reuse centre (picture) will close on Wednesday. In the case of any delays in recycling collection, black bin collections will be prioritized.

It added that black bin collections would be prioritised in the event of delays to recycling collections

It added that black bin collections would be prioritised in the event of delays to recycling collections 

According to local government officials, nationwide staff shortages exist in the areas of waste collection as well as social services and child services. 

Jon Richard, the assistant general secretary of Unison, the public services union, told the Guardian: ‘Key health, council, care and police services have so many staff off that lots are worried they will not be able to keep going.

“That is why additional measures to stop virus spread will be of paramount importance over the next weeks. Services have had to make do with a small staff over the years. Omicron is now ending this, which has left services in peril.

Concerns were also raised over the reopening of schools following the Christmas break. Paul Whiteman of National Association of Head Teachers warns that pupils may be sent home if they don’t have enough teaching staff.

Geoff Barton was the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. He stated to the BBC that the absences at schools had reached an ‘unsustainable’ level, and some schools were reporting up to 25% staff absent in the week prior to Christmas.

“We are not sure what the week ahead will be like.” While we’re not predicting the worst, we believe it is important to maintain a realistic perspective.

Others industries were also affected, as West End actors were called up in just four hours due to Covid cast members.

Charlotte Kennedy, 27, was given four hours’ notice to play Cosette in a production of Les Misérables at the Sondheim Theatre.

According to her, it was an extremely quick turnaround. After I was fitted for my costume, the stylist decided how to style my hair. [there was no time for a wig fitting]”I was then just going through my lyrics hoping that they would stick.”

As many as 40% of the NHS’s London employees could disappear in the worst case scenario, Professor Alison Leary (chair of Health Care and Workforce Modelling at London Southbank University) has predicted.

The total number of 18829 NHS employees in acute trusts was absent on December 19 due to coronavirus reasons. This is an increase from the 12,240 staff a week prior.

The NHS is already under pressure from this increase in staff who call in sick and are isolated every day.

Barts Health Trust had 338 employees absent on December 19, either due to the virus, or because they were being isolating. This was compared with 91 who went off the job the Sunday before.

Similar trends were observed across all of the capital, with Covid-related absences increasing from 1,540 up to 3,874 in the same period. 

The virus accounts for approximately 43 percent of NHS London daily absences, up from 18% prior to Omicron’s spiral out of control. 

Covid at Great Ormond Street Hospital was the worst-hit trust. More than 6 Percent of employees were absent.

According to NHS England data on December 19, 351 Great Ormond Street Hospital Trust workers were either ill due to Covid, as compared with 70 weeks prior. Statistics suggest that this represented 6.13 percent of the entire trust’s workforce. MailOnline has a graphic that shows which 10 London trusts had the highest percentage of employees who were absent due to Covid. It was shown in the MailOnline graph on December 19, 2009.

Some 338 hospital workers at Barts Health trust were ill or isolating due to Covid on December 19, according to NHS England data, compared to 83 two weeks earlier. Guy's and St Thomas' Trust had the highest Covid staff absence numbers in London, with 515 workers at home on December 19, compared to 179 two weeks earlier on December 5 (188 per cent increase). King's College Hospital trust saw 505 Covid-related absences on December 19, followed by Imperial College Healthcare trust (365), Great Ormond Street Hospital trust (351) and St George's University Hospital trust (206)

According to NHS England data on December 19, 338 Barts Health Trust hospital employees were either ill due to Covid or wasolating as a result of the disease. This compares to 83 just two weeks ago. With 515 Covid workers home, Guy’s Hospital Trust (179 on December 5), St Thomas’ Trust was the most affected. This is an 188% increase from the previous week. King’s College Hospital Trust saw 505 Covid-related absences December 19. This was followed by Imperial College Healthcare trust (3365), Great Ormond Street Hospitaltrust (351), and St George’s University Hospital trust (206)

NHS England data shows staff absences in London due to Covid have increased from 1,100 to 3,874 over in the two weeks to December 19. It means the virus now makes up around 43 per cent of NHS daily absences in London compared to just 18 per cent before Omicron spiralled out of control

NHS England data has shown that the number of staff who have been absent in London because of Covid increased from 1,100 up to 3,874 between November 19 and December 19. The virus accounts for 43 percent of NHS London’s daily absences. This is a significant increase from the 18% that Omicron had before Omicron became out of control.

The Prime Minister is set for crunch talks today to discuss whether England should follow other UK nations in introducing additional Covid curbs prior to the new Year.

Discussions around additional measures center on whether the health system can handle an anticipated spike in patients infected like those seen in London and rising staff absenteeism.  

Retail, which was already afflicted by the pandemic in the past, faced staff shortages on Boxing Day.

They are worried about being further affected by Christmas when they return to their homes having spread Omicron among friends, family and loved ones.

Gatwick in the UK, which is second busiest airport after London, stated that only three of 215 flights had been cancelled on Sunday. Coronavirus is the main cause of many cancellations worldwide, but severe weather conditions in the USA has also been mentioned.

Holidaymakers on the hunt for winter escapes were delayed 12 hours by Manchester Airport’s chaotic day.

The passengers were due to depart Manchester for Turin around 8.10am on Boxing Day. However, they didn’t make it in time until 12 hours after.

It is expected that they arrive in Italy around 10.30pm. 

People spent hours waiting on airplanes while they waited to depart. 

Michael Ackroyd was from Saddleworth (Oldham), and was affected by delays.

His family was looking forward to their ski holiday, but were interrupted by the chaos.

Tui, the flight operator has apologized to passengers and has confirmed that the plane is now headed for Italy.

According to Ackroyd, the interruption was due to a “technical problem”. Ackroyd stated that the airplane passengers had to travel to Turin was having problems with its toilet.

The passengers waited for three hours on the plane before they were taken off.

A few hours later, the passengers were transferred to a different plane at 3.45pm.

Another hour passed before Mr Ackroyd stated that they had been told by the ground crew there was no one available to help with baggage transfer onto the next plane.

At 7.30pm, the flight was over.

The vouchers were to be spent on meals during the day. One person claimed they were only told that there weren’t any food on board for the evening flight.

A passenger explained that there were children aboard, so no food was available and there is a higher risk of COVID. However, everyone should have a PCR done within 48 hours and a lateral flow test performed with 24 hours. Tensions are increasing, people are stressed, patience is running thin’.

“To call the current conditions a disgrace would be an understatement.

“To the credit of the crew onboard, they are maintaining calm and answering all questions. They also work hard to make phone calls in order to resolve the many issues that have arisen.”

Travellers who were due to fly from Turin back to Manchester have been affected by the delays.

TUI spokesperson said, “We apologize for any inconvenience caused to our customers by flight TOM2726 Manchester-Turin. This was delayed because of a technical problem.

We can confirm that an alternative aircraft is now departing from Manchester. Customers are currently on their way to Turin.

Safety and welfare of crew and passengers is our number one priority. We thank our passengers for their understanding and patience.

People took to social media in protest of long waiting times at airports.

Nationwide, 6.8% of trains were cancelled yesterday, compared to an annual average of 2.9%, the Rail Delivery Group said. File photo

The Rail Delivery Group reported that 6.8% of all trains in the country were cancelled yesterday, against an average annual rate of 2.9%. File photo 

More than 2,200 flights were scrapped globally yesterday, FlightAware tracking data shows, with Heathrow cancelling 60 flights on Sunday. File pic

FlightAware data indicates that more than 2200 flights were cancelled worldwide yesterday. Heathrow also cancelled 60 flights Sunday. File pic 

Jamie Gloyne tweeted: @united What is happening at Heathrow? If you don’t check in faster, all these people are likely to miss their flight.

Twitter user He also added, “Never seen such a lack of organization.” This is chaos.

Amira Rasool stated that London’s airport was trying to be the top-flight security in the world.

“Like to leave my Korean makeup products and travel-sized mascara alone sis.

‘Never again transfer to London Heathrow. Is it possible to take someone’s small travel-sized items out of their bags because they don’t fit in one plastic bag? Or make it cost us money to have it returned or offer new products at the airport.

“I asked the manager for clarification and she replied that there was only one bag. They let us choose the items.

‘Girl. Just say that you are aware it’s about them wanting us to either buy their products or pay for shipping.

Robyn Hoffe wrote: “We still wait for my mother’s bag to arrive. From JNB 19/12, she landed at Heathrow.

“We’ve followed all procedures, and were informed it would arrive 21/12. Then it was shipped to Edinburgh.

“Then, I promised that it would be there 23/12.” She continued: Is the case now closed? We need your help.

Chaotic scenes at Heathrow over the weekend as Covid staff shortages started to hit

Over the weekend, Heathrow was witness to chaotic scenes as Covid staff shortages began to strike

Maz asks: Are any Heathrow leaders parents? Try going through Heathrow border control with your kids, the queues are always long esp for UK nationals, it sucks…

It is a shame that social distancing at Heathrow is not existent. “Oh, and social distancing is non-existent Heathrow.

Domestic travel suffered from illness amongst staff, which led to many cancellations yesterday.

Planning for Christmas is being severely affected by the triple threat of planned closures, strikes and shortages caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

West Midlands Railways yesterday announced that service between Leamington Spa, Nuneaton, and Coventry was suspended indefinitely

The spokesperson said that the Coronavirus Pandemic, and later Omicron Variant, had an important impact on the workforce. As a result, more of our colleagues will have to take their lives.

‘Whilst we make every effort to run the planned train service, we need to let you know that in December, we will be making changes to services between Leamington Spa – Nuneaton via Coventry. It will still be accessible by rail replacement buses until further notice.

Travellers and commuters in the capital should expect similar problems due to Tube closures.

The Piccadilly railway was shut down between Heathrow Airport, Acton Town and December 30, 

Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said that train companies prioritize running as many trains during Christmas because we understand how important it is for people. Our mission is to transport everyone from one place to the next. 

“To make this happen, we are asking everyone to check their passports before traveling.