The UK is to cut the self-isolation period from 14 to 10 days for people who have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the CCP virus and for travellers arriving from abroad.
The reduced quarantine period will apply to England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland and will take effect from Dec. 14, the government announced in a media release
Wales had already started operating
its own 10-day self-isolation rule on Dec 10.
"After reviewing the evidence," the chief medical officers of Britain's four nations said, "we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10 days."
The new 10-day self-isolation period is to start, the government said, the day after someone has been exposed to the virus, following a positive test, or at the onset of symptoms.
People already self-isolating can end their stretch on Monday if they have been quarantining for 10 days or more by then, it said.
The change also affects travellers and each of Britain's four nations have their own travel corridor
"People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days," the government said.
The announcement comes despite rising cases in some parts of the country including London for parts of which, along with parts of Essex and Kent, Matt Hancock on Thursday announced mass testing
among secondary school age pupils.
In the most recent week
of complete data up to Dec. 5, 191 new cases per 100,000 people were recorded in London, up from 158 the previous week.
to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), cases are also showing signs of increasing in the East of England.
Over-all infection rates in Britain, however, have dropped, the ONS said, and the R number
, the rate at which the virus spreads, has retreated down to 0.9–1 where it was two weeks ago
England's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jenny Harries, said the science behind the reduction in the self-isolation period was based on "a continuous accumulation of evidence through the pandemic," the BBC reported
'Tail End' of an Infection
The "tail end" of an infection was when it was least likely to be spread to someone else, she reportedly said.
The reduction comes after Britain on Tuesday began
vaccinating patients against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus
, becoming the first country in the world to roll out the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
But despite being able to see that "we've got help on the horizon," Hancock said
it would still be some time before the population would be protected by immunisation.
"Even with this mass vaccination programme, for the next few months, we will not have sufficient protection through the vaccination programme," he said, and urged people to "keep respecting the rules."
"We can't stop that now, just because the vaccine is here," he said.
The four chief medical officers said that self-isolation was "essential to reducing the spread of COVID as it breaks the chains of transmission."
Alexander Zhang contributed to this report.