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Relaxation of Omicron 10-day isolation requirement ‘does not apply to GPs’

Relaxation of Omicron 10-day isolation requirement ‘does not apply to GPs’

Exclusive The Government’s relaxation of the 10-day isolation requirement for contacts of Omicron cases does not apply to GPs and other health and care staff, Pulse has been told.

The UK Health Security Agency explained that the new guidance is for the public, while there has been no change to its existing guidance for health and care workers.

The guidance is kept under constant review, they added.

But, as it stands, this means GPs and practice staff must isolate for 10 days if they are a close contact of a ‘suspected or confirmed’ Omicron Covid case – although they are not considered a close contact if wearing PPE correctly.

At the time it was published, this was in line with guidance for the public. But new guidance released by the DHSC yesterday said that from tomorrow, fully vaccinated contacts of a Covid case – ‘whether Omicron or not’ – should take daily lateral flow tests for seven days and isolate only if they test positive or develop symptoms.

It said: ‘The practical move comes as Omicron infections are rising significantly in the UK and it is expected to become the dominant strain in the UK by mid-December. 

‘It aims to reduce pressures on people’s everyday lives by replacing the requirement for Omicron contacts to isolate for 10 days, while protecting the public by identifying asymptomatic cases and stopping the chains of transmission.’

Since August, fully vaccinated GPs identified as a close contact of a Covid case have been ‘expected to return to work’ thanks to their self-isolation exemption.

But UKHSA’s guidance set out that GPs and practice staff are not exempt from self-isolation if they are a close contact of a ‘suspected or confirmed’ Omicron Covid case. 

What does the UKHSA guidance say?

‘Staff members notified that they are a contact of a Covid-19 case are not required to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated. 

‘This does not apply if they are identified as a close contact of a suspected or confirmed case of infection with the Omicron variant.’

Healthcare staff in this situation must take a PCR test and self-isolate for a ‘full ten days’, even if they are within 90 days of a previous positive PCR test result.

Those who are unvaccinated or partially vaccinated but usually exempt from contact isolation – due to being under 18, medically unable to be vaccinated or part of a Covid vaccine clinical trial – will also ‘not be exempt’ if their contact is a ‘confirmed or possible’ Omicron case.

Healthcare workers who are unvaccinated and exempt from self-isolation in the community ‘should not attend work or should be redeployed for the period of time they would be required to self-isolate’.

Staff providing care to or in close contact with a Covid case will not be considered a contact for the purposes of contact tracing and isolation if they are wearing ‘the correct PPE appropriately’ and in line with guidance.

Source: UKHSA

The news comes as NHS England has asked GP practices to prioritise booster jabs over routine appointments as of today, as the Government decided to move the target date for offering all over-18s a booster jab back one month to 31 December.

Today, the Government also ‘temporarily suspended’ home ordering of lateral flow test kits (LFTs) ‘to fulfil existing orders’, amid a boost in demand.

Meanwhile, NHS England also confirmed last week that ‘at this stage’ infection prevention control (IPC) guidance for healthcare settings ‘remains unchanged’.

And GPs were last month advised to order a PCR test for patients who have returned from a number of African countries in the past 10 days and isolate them in a side room ‘if possible’ to curb the spread of Omicron.

Click to complete relevant Covid-19 CPD modules on Pulse Learning. 

READERS' COMMENTS [4]

Michael Mullineux 13 December, 2021 4:27 pm

What PPE? That plastic apron and surgical mask supplied previously? The same PPE that
was contrary to WHO advice?
Bit like Groundhog day isn’t it, probably better to use your own infection control knowledge and not pay much attention to the contradictory messaging from central command?

Reply moderated
Rebecca Hall 13 December, 2021 4:59 pm

The latter- so much waste generated by such ill-informed guidance. Meanwhile I am the only one in my practice consulting in a room with all windows open. no pinny and gloves for me.

John Glasspool 14 December, 2021 5:39 pm

All go off sick.

Nigel Dickson 16 December, 2021 11:30 am

Unbelievable – but true. Who is in charge? If the New Forest West MP – Sir David Swayne is anything to go by – he has just this week won the House of Commons “Mohamed Ali of stupidity” award for his “contribution” to the recent commons debate on re-introducing mask wearing indoors in trains, buses, shops and public venues – and covid19 passports to mass venues. The reason he got the award as greatest, most stupid MP was the blatant silly child like lies he told parliament. It would appear that he made up that 300-400 people die every day from normal flu (the real figure is a tenth of that in a bad winter – at present its virtually zero) and we don’t have to wear face masks for the flu. He failed to point out Covid19 is a far more lethal disease still killing 1,000’s every week at present in UK. He also made up that similar numbers of people die on UK roads every year – and we don’t worry about driving our cars – 1,350 people died on roads in UK last year – – so again he was 12 fold out on his lies.

As regards our current comicon outbreak here in UK one thing you can be sure of with BoJo and his expert comedians (although there seem to be some recent cracks developing amongst his “experts” who realise they got it completely wrong with their management at national level of the last 2 outbreaks of Covid19) that with their policy of “too little, too late” that they have followed during this pandemic – we are bound to be overwhelmed by comicon. In South Africa where 70 % of population have been previously infected with Covid19, and 25% (the whites on the whole) are fully vaccinated – despite those very high population immunity to Covid19 figures – this week 50% of 12-18 year olds in South Africa have tested +ve for comicon. So despite high levels of immunity comicon is able to infect – all the 3 jab “boosted” individuals getting comicon each day prove just being vaccinated doesn’t stop you from catching and passing on conicom.

BoJo’s “master” plan to rely on booster campaign to solve comicon disaster is just plain stupid and makes no sense. But he and his expert comedians are adamant. Folk are still able to attend mass gatherings – 3 premier league matches went ahead last night with no social distancing or compulsory face masks “its outdoors it must be safe” – unless its socially distanced of course its not safe. Clubs and pubs – no masks – no social distancing. You couldn’t make this up?

The forthcoming collapse of NHS and inevitable death toll amongst elderly and vulnerable is totally avoidable. NHS Deputy infectious diseases director (a clever lady who was 1st of Boo’s expert comedians to break ranks) advised 2 weeks ago as 1st few cases of comicon were turning up in UK that we needed to avoid all unnecessary social contacts, resume working from home if at all possible – and Tory media (and quite a few Tory politicians) publically tore into her as a scare monger with bluff and hot air about “world beating mass vaccination programme” when truth is UK are 16th in world tables when it comes to % of total population fully vaccinated. How is 16th place “world beating” – Canada is 10th – that hopeless corrupt 3rd world country Brazil is 15th beating the “world leading booster programme” UK.

The good news is Parliament breaks up today for its Christmas holidays so we will be hearing less from that corrupt lying lot currently in power – some hope – the other good news is that France has Red listed the UK 24 hours after we lifted all red countries restrictions. What do the French know that we are not being told by our government?
Keep safe, seasons best wishes