Today’s ministers revealed that they do not plan to reduce the Covid self isolation period to five days. This is despite concerns about staff shortages threatening the NHS and other essential parts of the economy.

Boris Johnson has been urged by scientists, MPs, and business leaders to follow in the footsteps of the USA’s lead by reducing quarantine time.

However, the government has stated that no additional changes are planned. Chloe Smith (minister for disabled people and health), said that the current 7-day period of isolation was the “right” length. 

Only last week, No10 reduced the England quarantine period from ten to seven days for people who have tested negative twice in a row. Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland still have not made any changes.  

But late on Monday, American health officials announced they would cut their isolation time for positive cases to just five days – provided people were showing no symptoms, piling pressure on the UK to follow suit.

Sir John Bell (a world-renowned immunologist who was a former Government adviser) said that he supported a similar move to the UK provided people did not record negative lateral flow. Paul Hunter from University of East Anglia called for the removal of all isolation rules.

Kate Nicholls of UK Hospitality trade group stated that “Dropping isolation needs from ten to seven day…has already reduced staff absences within the food supply chains. They should review the most recent CDC data and take action to address concerns about staff education, health, and to avoid lockdown and punitive measures.

Theresa Villiers, a former Tory minister said that the Government must seriously consider reducing mandatory isolation times.

Meanwhile, it also emerged today that Test & Trace is still telling people to quarantine for 10 full days despite the updated advice. It is believed that up to 800,000.00 people may be isolated at the moment.

Scientists, MPs and business leaders have lined up to urge Boris Johnson to follow the US' example by once again reducing the time spent in quarantine

But the Government has said there are 'no further changes' planned. Chloe Smith, minister for disabled people, health and work, said the current seven-day isolation span was the 'right' length of time

Boris Johnson (left), a host of scientists, business and MP leaders have gathered to call on him to take the US’ lead by reducing quarantine time. The Government said that no further changes are planned. Chloe Smith, minister for people with disabilities, health, and work (right), stated that the current 7-day period of isolation was the right length.

Meanwhile, it also emerged today that Test & Trace is still telling people to quarantine for 10 full days despite the updated advice. Up to 800,000 people are thought to currently be in isolation. An email telling the recipient to self-isolate for 10 days despite the change in guidance

Meanwhile, it also emerged today that Test & Trace is still telling people to quarantine for 10 full days despite the updated advice. Up to 800,000. People are currently isolated. A message to the receiver requesting that they self-isolate themselves for 10 days, despite receiving new guidance 

Test & Trace is still telling people to quarantine for 10 days despite the updated advice, texts seen by MailOnline show

Test & Trace is still telling people to quarantine for 10 days despite the updated advice, texts seen by MailOnline show

Can you really cut down the 10 day quarantine safely? 

What is the maximum time people can be infected?

Academics suggest that Britain’s Covid sentence for self-isolation could be reduced by half to only five days.

According to data, 98% of viral transmission happens before the person becomes ill or within 5 days. 

The University of St Andrews’ infectious disease expert Dr Muge Cervik said that most cases are transmitted very quickly.

“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?

These tests are best used to identify people with the highest infectiousness. They can be done in as short as fifteen minutes. 

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

The kits work better than the gold-standard PCRs. Swabs are sent to laboratory to check for virus genetic material. 

They are more likely to not spot an infected person, and less likely they will give positive results when the viral load is lower.

However, PCRs are sensitive to viral fragments and may detect them even after symptoms have resolved.

A positive PCR test does not necessarily mean that someone is contagious. 

Former Tory minister David Jones told The Telegraph that officials were trying to overturn democratically-responsible ministers’ decisions.

“The changes to the rule were made after careful consideration of all relevant evidence. The responsibility of officials now lies with them to put in place those changes. They have to let go of the mentality that Whitehall is best.

William Wragg (Tory Chairman of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Select Committee), which supervises the Civil Service’s work, stated: “The UK Health Security Agency doesn’t govern the country and should, as such, follow all instructions from ministers. 

“The policy regarding test and release was updated. It should now be properly communicated to all. 

When asked if the government would reduce the Covid self isolation period, Ms Smith said to BBC Breakfast that there are currently no plans for England to alter it.

‘Of course, we have actually only recently taken it down from 10 to seven, and we want to look at that – we want to make sure that that is working as we believe it ought to. Therefore, we believe the current period is right and have no plans to alter it.

Last night, the spokesperson for Government stated that they are keeping the rules ‘under review’ based upon the most recent data.

American officials scrapped Monday an order that would have required the infected self-isolate 10 days. They can now leave at half-way, provided they don’t have any symptoms, and they are able to wear masks around other people for five more days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bosses, insisted that the decision was based on science and maintained society’s functioning.   

Experts immediately called on the UK to do the same, especially considering Omicron’s destructive effects on Christmas businesses by forcing thousands of people to remain at home. 

Professor Hunter claimed that No10 must relax all rules at some time, and suggested this may have to occur’sooner or later’. He proposed 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.

Shadow work secretary Jonathan Ashworth, who is also pensions secretary, said that the Government shouldn’t ‘hurry into’ cutting Covid isolation time.

Sky News asked him about the calls to reduce the time for isolation to 5 days. He said that he believes we should follow the advice from our top scientists, such as Patrick Vallance and Chris Whitty, but that he doesn’t believe they have given any opinion.

He said, “Let’s hear what they have to say about this before we rush into it.”

Ashworth stated, “Politicians should always listen to experts in science.”

Matthew Taylor, the chief executive officer of the NHS Confederation said that’staff shortage is a major issue for the NHS currently’ in addition to the approximately 100,000 vacant positions.

He was asked by BBC Radio 4’s Today if the Covid self-isolation time should be decreased to five days in order to allow more employees to work.

“But, it is important to recognize that there are risks to everything that we do. If we reduce the time to five days that would be on the basis of very clear evidence that does not increase infection rates.

His argument was that the evidence wasn’t yet available, and he added Omicron was an entirely new variant. He also mentioned that there was an increase in hospitalizations.

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.

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

Research suggests that omicron could cause milder diseases than coronaviruses in the beginning. 

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 of these cases will be mild.

“We need a way to ensure society can continue functioning and following 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 reduced by up to five days or even less in severe cases of staff shortages.

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data showed 129,471 people tested positive in England over the last 24 hours, up 43 per cent on last week's figure of 90,629 — which included case numbers for the other home nations as well

UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data showed 129,471 people tested positive in England over the last 24 hours, up 43 per cent on last week’s figure of 90,629 — which included case numbers for the other home nations as well

The daily death figures were also affected by reporting blips over the festive period, confusing the true state of the current Covid outbreak

Daily death numbers were also affected due to reporting blips during the holiday period. This confused the truth of the Covid epidemic.

Ministers are thought to be watching admissions in Omicron hotspot London closely, with a breach of 400 expected to trigger further restrictions nationwide. The latest data shows 374 people were admitted to the capital on Boxing Day, up 73 per cent on the week before

The admissions to Omicron Hotspot London are being closely monitored by ministers. A breach of 400 could trigger additional restrictions across the country. Boxing Day saw 374 admissions to London, an increase of 73% over the previous week.

UK Government statistics show how the number of Covid tests being conducted has reached 1.5m a day, with the number of swabs carried out having increased massively since Omicron first emerged

UK Government Statistics show that 1.5m Covid test are being performed per day. However, the amount of Covid swabs done has increased tremendously since Omicron’s inception.

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

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

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 even further to replicate the US using lateral flow testing.

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


Current quarantine and isolation rules in Britain differ based upon where you live and whether or not you’ve been vaccinated.

England’s fully vaccinated adult population is only required to isolate the disease if it has been confirmed.

Rules state that you must be symptomatic or positive to a PCR test.

  • You test positive and the clock will start.
  • A person infected can be freed from isolation after 7 days, if they’ve tested negative two times on a lateralflow test.
  • 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. These rules apply to people who have been vaccinated but are not fully or partially vaccinated.

These are their words:

  • You test positive and the clock will start.
  • 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.
  • If symptoms persist after five days of isolating, you can stay at home until your condition improves. Then you will be able to start wearing a mask for the next five days.

People who have been in close proximity to an infected individual but are not yet infected should follow Quarantine rules.

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 at minimum 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 still in the same boat as people who had booster shots. However, they can be released from quarantine within five days of receiving them if they keep wearing masks at all times for five more days.