A group of 25 doctors wrote to Secretary of Health Matt Hancock because they are concerned about current advice from the UK on the self-isolation of the coronavirus.
The advice says that people should stay at home and avoid contact with others for seven days if they develop symptoms.
After that, self-isolation may stop – if they are feeling well and have no fever.
But advice from the World Health Organization says that people should isolate themselves for 14 days after the symptoms disappear.
And now Newcastle University public health expert, Professor Allyson Pollock and 24 colleagues also concerned are asking for evidence to support the UK position.
The Department of Health and Welfare says the recommendations are based on science and expert advice suggesting:
- most people will develop symptoms within five days of contact with the virus
- after seven days it is very unlikely that the virus will be spread to anyone else
UK indications indicate that a cough may persist for several weeks despite the fact that the coronavirus infection has subsided and does not mean that self-isolation should be prolonged.
Although, if the symptoms get worse and especially if a person develops shortness of breath or a new fever, they should contact the NHS 111.
The WHO recommendations provide a framework that countries must then adapt to their national circumstances, he adds.
An official said, “The government’s response to this virus and to all clinical directions is led by science and a team of world-renowned clinicians, public health experts and scientists – including epidemiologists – working 24 around the clock to keep us safe. “
But Professor Pollock and his colleagues say there have been reports of a risk of infection beyond seven days – ranging from 10 to 24 days after the onset of symptoms.
“We are also concerned about the narrow spectrum of symptoms that the UK uses to indicate its self-isolation,” they write in their letter to Mr. Hancock.
The UK says cough and fever are the main ones, but others may include:
- sore throat
- shortness of breath
- muscle aches
“We are aware that other countries are using a wider range of symptoms to isolate themselves,” they add.