The self-isolation advice for people with coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed as of today (December 22).
It is now possible to end self-isolation after 7 days, following 2 negative LFD tests taken 24 hours apart. The first LFD test should not be taken before the sixth day.
Those who leave self-isolation on or after day 7 are advised to limit close contact with other people in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID- 19.
There is no change to the guidance for unvaccinated contacts of positive COVID-19 cases, who are still required to self-isolate for 10 full days after their date of exposure to the virus.
Analysis by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) suggests that a 7-day isolation period alongside 2 negative lateral flow test results has nearly the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period without LFD testing for people with COVID-19.
Government says the new approach reflects latest evidence on how long cases transmit the virus for, and supports essential public services and supply chains over the winter, while still limiting the spread of the virus.
Officials say studies also demonstrate that LFD tests are just as sensitive at detecting the Omicron variant, as they are for Delta.
Existing public health measures remain in place including:
- staying at home if you feel unwell
- get a test if you experience any COVID-19 symptoms
- wear a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces
- work from home if possible
- maintain social distancing and regular hand washing
- take up the offer of the free COVID-19 vaccine
Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of UKHSA, said: “COVID-19 is spreading quickly among the population and the pace at which Omicron is transmitting may pose a risk to running our critical public services during winter. This new guidance will help break chains of transmission and minimise the impact on lives and livelihoods. It is crucial that people carry out their LFD tests as the new guidance states and continue to follow public health advice.
“As always, we urge everyone who is eligible to get their booster jab without delay, wear a mask in crowded spaces, on public transport and in shops, wash your hands regularly and ventilate rooms well. If you have any COVID-19 symptoms stay at home and get a PCR test as soon as possible.”
If you are fully vaccinated or aged under 18 years and 6 months, and you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, you are not legally required to self-isolate. However, you are strongly advised to take an LFD test every day for 7 days, and to self-isolate if any of these test results is positive
People are deemed to be fully vaccinated 14 days after having received 2 doses of an approved vaccine (such as Pfizer/BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Moderna/Spikevax) or one dose of the single-dose Janssen vaccine.
People who are not double-jabbed and come in close contact with a positive case must still isolate for a full 10 days.
You may be entitled to a one-off payment of £500 through the NHS Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you are legally required to stay at home and self-isolate or you are the parent or guardian of a child who has been told to self-isolate.