Covid-19 self-isolation rules could be scrapped within weeks, according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson

Laws which force people to self-isolate following a positive Covid-19 test could be scrapped within weeks, the Prime Minister has said.

By James Harrison
Wednesday, 9th February 2022, 2:43 pm

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Currently, anyone with a confirmed case of coronavirus has to quarantine themselves for at least five days, in most cases.

Restrictions, which have already been eased following the peak of the Omicron variant wave, could be further scaled back, according to Boris Johnson, if infection rates continue to taper off.

But government advisors have urged ministers to be cautious before confirming any rule changes and warning the disease “could come back to bite us anytime”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday February 9, 2022. See PA story Politics PMQs. Photo credit should read: House of Commons/PA Wire

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Speaking at today’s session of Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), he said: “It is my intention to return on the first day after the half-term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid.

“Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions – including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive – a full month early.”

The House of Commons is due to rise for its February recess tomorrow (Thursday, February 10), with MPs returning to parliamentary business from February 21.

According to the latest NHS data, there were 11,471 patients in hospital in England with Covid-19 on February 8.

PORTSMOUTH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 22: A test is processed on February 22, 2021 in Portsmouth, England. NHS Test and Trace have provided Portsmouth City Council with the lateral flow tests, coming as part of a new pilot to enable local public health leaders to start testing eligible critical workers not covered by other rapid community testing programmes. The community testing initiative, which is in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, launched at the Guildhall in Portsmouth to help drive down transmission rates. The site offers asymptomatic testing for those critical workers who cannot work from home and those who, during the course of their work, have regular contact with other people. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

This is down by almost a tenth compared to the previous week, but still higher than levels before Christmas.

However, of those, just 385 patients were in mechanical ventilator beds, the lowest number since last July.

The UK recently marked two years since it recorded its first official case of Covid-19, since when almost 160,000 people have died with the disease.

Professor Peter Openshaw, who advises the Government on Covid through the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag), said he would be “very reluctant” to suggest this was the end of Covid, adding it was “still a very nasty virus”.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s The World at One, he said: “It would be wholly wrong to say that the pandemic is in any way over.

"We don’t know what’s around the corner, there could be another variant, perhaps based on Delta or something else with higher pathogenicity, which could come back to bite us anytime, and I’m pretty sure that next winter we’re going to see it back.”

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