Close contacts of Covid cases could be released from self-isolation five days earlier, under a program being developed by government scientists.
Articles submitted to SAGE on March 3 suggest that the mandatory 10-day quarantine period could be cut in half if people are tested daily with lateral flow kits.
They would need to test negative at every opportunity to be released early, with newspapers noting that it could be “as effective” as the current system.
Government guidelines currently require anyone who has been in close contact with a case of Covid – within two meters to two days before testing positive – to be isolated at home for 10 days.
They cannot leave isolation if they test negative for Covid before the end of this period, but must get a swab that does not contain the virus to be released into society.
A senior SAGE source said the testing regimen was “plausible” but claimed it was not something No10 was currently reviewing.
They added that the study made big assumptions that people would be less likely to violate isolation rules if given the option of a five-day test.
And knowledgeable people might actually be less inclined to receive a swab, which is often uncomfortable, every day.
Close contacts of Covid cases could be released from self-isolation five days earlier, under a program being developed by government scientists (stock)
MOTHER DEATH RATE TO BE UP 20 PERCENT IN ONE YEAR
The death rate among pregnant women has increased by 20% in a year, according to scientists advising the government.
And more pregnancies have been stepped up for investigation by medical chiefs this year than in the past decade.
The mortality rate for expectant mothers was 12 per 100,000 maternities for the period from March 2020 to February 2021.
By comparison, it was 10 per 100,000 in the previous period.
The document – compiled by the UK Obstetric Surveillance System – said infections with the virus were unlikely to be the only reason for the increase in the rate, with disruptions to health services also likely to be blamed.
Almost one million women are pregnant in the UK each year, 700,000 of whom give birth, 96% of them in hospitals.
SAGE’s spin-off group, SPI-MO, modeled whether daily testing for five days could be a viable alternative to the current quarantine regime.
They said the program could be “more effective” at reducing the spread of the virus because it could catch cases earlier and cause them to self-isolate.
It would also detect asymptomatic infections – which do not trigger any symptoms – which represent at least a third of cases according to official estimates.
Their article said, “Assuming a three-day timeframe for contact notification and dispatch of test kits, five days of sequential testing may equal the effectiveness of the 10-day quarantine for the same level of. membership in each.
“If adherence was better using daily contact testing than quarantine, then more transmission can be avoided. “
They added, “There is little benefit to additional days of sequential testing beyond a certain point. “
The documents do not mention whether this system can also be used for those returning from foreign countries.
Ministers reduced the self-isolation period from two weeks to 10 days in December, amid warnings the period was too long and many people were not following order.
At the time, official estimates suggested that only one in ten people invited to be quarantined during the entire period actually did so.
But the UK’s chief medical officers have decided the evidence is strong enough to reduce the likelihood of someone still being contagious after 10 days as low as one or two in 100.
The government had initially sought to reduce the quarantine time to just one week in order to strengthen compliance with the program.
Holidays abroad are currently banned until May 17 at the earliest, but rules say anyone returning to the UK from abroad must self-isolate for 10 days – or quarantine in a hotel if it comes from a country on the red list.
But those who stay at home can be released five days earlier if they can produce a negative test result for the virus.
It comes after official figures showed Britain’s Covid epidemic is still heading in the right direction, with cases continuing to drop.
Health ministry bosses reported 3,150 more Covid cases today, a 7% drop from last week.
60 other victims were added to the official toll, up slightly from last Friday’s figure. The trend over the past two days is likely to be a blemish, as daily counts can fluctuate and infections have steadily dropped over the past four months.
And an additional 550,000 vaccines were distributed yesterday, bringing Britain closer to the 32 million mark. More than 6.5 million people have now had both strokes.
Top No10 scientists also predicted the R-rate – the average number of people infected by one infected with the virus – in England to be between 0.8 and 1.0, meaning schools have had little reopening. effect on the epidemic. It has been below one since the lockdown was imposed in January.
And the Bureau of National Statistics estimated that Covid cases had increased by only 10% in a week, insisting that the evidence showed the epidemic had barely changed since March. He estimated that there were 160,000 people infected with the coronavirus on any given day of the week ending April 3, or one in 340 people had the virus.
Experts tracking the spread of Covid said infections appeared to have “stabilized” across the country, dropping among the most vulnerable. They said there was no reason for Number 10 not to move forward with the roadmap for easing the lockdown.