Cabinet ramps up pressure on scientists to cut isolation to five days



Cabinet ministers are ramping up pressure on scientists to cut the self-isolation period to five days to ease staff shortages in businesses and public services, according to reports.

It comes after the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) admitted to misreading guidance from the US before publicly opposing the move.

Boris Johnson on Monday confirmed ministers were “looking at” changing the guidance despite scientific advisers warning it could lead to infectious people returning to work prematurely. Between 10 and 30 per cent of people are still harbouring the virus on day six, according to the UKHSA.

Government sources told The Times that Health Secretary Sajid Javid was left “frustrated” after the UKHSA clarified that the recommended Covid self-isolation period in the US is shorter than in the UK – after previously saying it was as effectively the same in both countries.

It said the recommended minimum of six full days in the UK was counted from the onset of symptoms, while in the US, the five-day isolation began from the day of a positive test, which could be several days after the first symptoms.

However, the UKHSA has updated its blog post, which now states: “In the UK our advice is to self-isolate for at least six full days from the point at which you have symptoms or get a positive test, whichever is first.”

The UKHSA said it made the correction after the US CDC health protection agency clarified its isolation period started when symptoms first appeared.

‘People are furious’: Former Scot Tory challenges PM over ‘drinks party’

08:56 , Daniel Keane

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson condemned the alleged Downing Street drinks party in May 2020, saying “People are (rightly) furious.”

The Tory peer tweeted in response to health minister Ed Argar telling BBC Breakfast: “I can entirely understand why people who’ve lost loved ones, or people who’ve just had their lives hugely disrupted by these restrictions, are angry and upset by these allegations.”

Baroness Davidson said: “This line won’t survive 48 hrs. Nobody needs an official to tell them if they were at a boozy shindig in their own garden. People are (rightly) furious. They sacrificed so much – visiting sick or grieving relatives, funerals. What tf were any of these people thinking?”

PM ‘cannot run and hide from party allegations’

08:36 , Daniel Keane

Boris Johnson “cannot run and he cannot hide” from claims an aide organised a “bring your own booze” Downing Street drinks party during the first lockdown, Labour’s Ed Miliband has said.

The shadow climate change and net zero secretary described the revelations as “incredibly damning” and called on the Prime Minister to explain whether he was at the party.

Mr Miliband told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The reason this is so damning is because it was an organised party, no ifs and no buts, because it was clearly the most flagrant violation of the rules.

“It was on the day that the cabinet minister Oliver Dowden said we were only allowed to meet one person outdoors, those were the rules in place. And, crucially, Number 10 has not denied that the Prime Minister…

Read More: Cabinet ramps up pressure on scientists to cut isolation to five days

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