GPs who come into close contact with a person who tests positive for Covid-19 may soon be able to take a rapid test and avoid self-isolation.
The use of lateral flow Covid testing to avoid isolation is likely to be rolled out ‘across the health system’ from next month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today.
Addressing Parliament via video link – because he is himself isolating after being identified as a Covid contact – Mr Johnson outlined plans for lateral flow testing to ensure care home residents could safely receive visitors.
But he added that the Government will also ‘use daily testing to ease another restriction that has infringed on many lives’.
He said: ‘We will seek to end automatic isolation for close contacts of those found positive. Beginning in Liverpool later this week, contacts who are tested every day for a week will only need to isolate if they themselves test positive.
‘If successful, this approach will be extended across the heath system next month, and to the whole of England from January. And of course, we’re working with the devolved administrations to ensure that Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland also benefit as they should and will from these advances in rapid testing.’
NHS England has already announced plans for asymptomatic GPs and other patient-facing NHS staff to self-test with using the new rapid lateral flow tests twice weekly going forward.
The Prime Minister’s statement to Parliament also outlined plans for an updated tier system for restrictions when England’s lockdown ends on 2 December.
Mr Johnson warned this would likely be stricter than before lockdown for most areas, but on a positive note he said: ‘For the first time since this wretched virus took hold, we can see a route out of the pandemic.
‘The breakthroughs in treatment, in testing and vaccines mean that the scientific cavalry is now in sight and we know in our hearts that next year we will succeed.
‘By the Spring, these advances should reduce the need for the restrictions we have endured in 2020 and make the whole concept of a Covid lockdown redundant.’