The Covid isolation period for people who test positive will be cut from seven to five days, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed.
Currently, people have to self-isolate for at least seven days if they test positive for the virus, but can leave isolation early if they return two consecutive negative lateral flow tests on the sixth and seventh days.
Speaking in the Commons today, Javid said people can now stop isolating at the start of day six, after five full days.
The Health Secretary said the change - which comes into effect on Monday 17 January, and applies to those in England - aims to 'maximise activity in the economy and education' while also minimising the risk of infection from people leaving isolation.
Data from the UK Health Security Agency shows that about two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of the fifth day, Javid explained.
This means people will have to test negative twice before leaving self-isolation on the start of day six.
Javid said there are still 'likely to be difficult weeks ahead' and that we 'must proceed with caution' as the NHS will remain under significant pressure.
But there are encouraging signs of the number of infections falling in areas like London and the East of England, while Javid said more people in the UK have received a booster jab than any other country relative to population.
He concluded his statement by saying the country 'better protected than ever before' against Covid, but stressed that the virus 'is not going away'.
"There will be more variants and no one can be sure what threat they might pose," he said, explaining how vaccines, testing and anti-virals are 'the best way to protect our health and freedoms as we learn to live with Covid'.
The Government has been under pressure to bring some measures in England in line with those of the United States, where the isolation period has been cut to five days.
The isolation period was previously slashed from 10 to seven days last month, with Javid saying this would ‘reduce the disruption to people’s everyday lives’ as the new Omicron variant continued to spread ‘very rapidly’.
At the time, he described the change - which had been informed by advice from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) - as ‘balanced and proportionate'.
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Topics: UK News