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Self-isolation period to increase to 10 days as Covid-19 cases rise

People with symptoms of coronavirus or a positive test should now self-isolate for 10 days rather than the seven days previously recommended, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.

A statement from the four chief medical officers across UK said that the advice was being changed on the back of data showing that people may still be infectious between days 7 to 9.

Until now, people with a new continuous cough, a temperature or loss of taste or smell or a positive Covid-19 test had been asked to self-isolate for a week.

The change comes amidst concerns about rising cases in some parts of Europe as well as local outbreaks in some areas of the UK including Oldham, Bradford and Staffordshire.

‘Evidence, although still limited, has strengthened and shows that people with Covid-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between 7 and 9 days after illness onset,’ the statement said.

‘We have considered how best to target interventions to reduce risk to the general population and consider that at this point in the epidemic, with widespread and rapid testing available and considering the relaxation of other measures, it is now the correct balance of risk to extend the self-isolation period from 7 to 10 days for those in the community who have symptoms or a positive test result.’

The updated recommendations would ‘provide additional protection’ particularly those who have been shielding and ahead of potential increased community transmission in the Autumn and Winter months, the CMOs said.

‘In symptomatic people Covid-19 is most infectious just before, and for the first few days after symptoms begin. It is very important people with symptoms self-isolate and get a test, which will allow contact tracing,’ the statement added.

The news comes as the death toll from Covid-19 in the UK is now nearing 50,000.