Self-isolation period ‘could be cut to seven days’ amid Test and Trace woes

Published: 25 October 2020

Post Desk : The self-isolation period for Covid contacts may be reduced to seven days amid concerns about public compliance with the Test and Trace system.

Officials on the Government’s Covid-19 taskforce are understood to be examining the case for reducing the current fortnight period of isolation to between 10 days and a week.

It could also apply to travellers returning from foreign countries with high coronavirus rates. The move – which would not apply to those who test positive for the disease – comes amid growing dissatisfaction with Test and Trace among ministers and MPs.

In a major intervention on Sunday, senior Conservative MP Sir Bernard Jenkin called for the system’s chief, Tory peer Baroness Dido Harding, to resign.

Sir Bernard told Sophy Ridge on Sunday that it was time to appoint a senior military in the role, and “move the system up several gears.”

Test and Trace last week hit a record low with just 59.6 per cent of the contacts of people who tested positive for the disease being successfully reached and told to self-isolate.

Boris Johnson was said to have become “disillusioned” with statistics provided by the service after they proved to be wrong, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

At the same time, there were said to be concerns that the prospect of a lengthy period indoors if they are contacted by Test and Trace is deterring people from co-operating.

The Telegraph quoted a No 10 source as saying: “Compliance is not as high as we would like and self-isolation is key if we are going to beat the virus.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis confirmed the Government is considering reducing the self-isolation period.

“Teams are looking at what we can do around those isolation periods. This will be scientifically-led,” he told Sky News’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme.

“We are learning more about the virus every single day. As we learn and the scientists are able to gauge, we can look at whether we can reassess that.

“We are not ready to make a final decision or announcement on that yet but we want to make sure we are moving with science and allow people to live and work within this virus as best as we can while always making sure we protect people’s health and the NHS.”

Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, shadow mental health minister, has said that Baroness Dido Harding’s position as head of the Test, Track and Trace system was “untenable”, but did not say whether she should resign.

“The huge take-home message here is … the Tories can see just how catastrophic the Test, Trace and Isolate system has been,” she told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

“It’s time to put it back to the local communities who know their communities best.

“(Baroness Harding’s) position is very difficult, it’s untenable really, but fundamentally this comes down to the responsibility of the Government, they have failed people.”

Meanwhile, talks are expected to continue this week between the Government and local leaders in Nottinghamshire, with parts of the county expected to enter the tightest Tier 3 restrictions on Wednesday.

The council in Warrington in Cheshire has already confirmed it will be moving to the very high alert level on Thursday.

It follows South Yorkshire which joined Liverpool City Region, Greater Manchester and Lancashire in Tier 3 on Saturday.