Cabinet anger over misleading Covid isolation guidance

0
42

Mr Johnson signalled his determination to address the matter after a number of Cabinet ministers called for changes to be made.

Speaking to broadcasters during a visit to a vaccination clinic in Uxbridge, he said there was an “argument to be had about the quarantine period – whether to come down from seven days to five days”, adding: “The thing to do is to look at the science. We are looking at that, and we will act according to the science.”

Last week, ministers repeatedly defended the current isolation period of seven days as long as a lateral flow test is negative, saying they were following “the clinical evidence” from the UKHSA. 

They cited a blog by the organisation, which was corrected on Monday. In the article, published more than a week ago, officials said: “There have been calls for us to also shorten our self-isolation window in line with the United States guidelines of five days.

“However, it is important to note that we are not comparing like with like. In the UK, our advice is to self-isolate from the point at which you have symptoms or get a positive test, whichever is first – this is when the self-isolation ‘clock’ starts. In the United States, the advice is to isolate for five days once you get a positive test, which may be some days after the first symptoms.”

The message was corrected after the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said isolation begins when symptoms appear – as it does in the UK. 

The CDC first published guidance on cutting isolation to five days on Dec 27. But Monday’s changes to the UK guidance were only made almost a week after it published more detailed information on Jan 4, explaining that, for those without a test result, the clock started with the appearance of symptoms.

The amended piece says: “In the UK, our advice is to self-isolate from the point at which you have symptoms or get a positive test, whichever is first – this is when the self-isolation ‘clock’ starts. In the United States, the advice is to isolate for five days also from this point.”

Both blogs justify the current position, which means isolating for a minimum of seven days, on the grounds that between 10 and 30 per cent of people are still infectious on days five and six. But neither explains why the remainder of those isolating should not be freed on day five if their lateral flow tests are negative.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

9 + 1 =