People infected with coronavirus can have their self-isolation period reduced from 10 days to seven by taking two lateral flow tests.
The announcement from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says those who have tested positive for Covid-19 can take two lateral flow tests 24 hours apart on day six and seven of their isolation.
If both results are negative, they can stop quarantine from the seventh day.
The Health Secretary said the change in guidance should reduce the disruption Covid-19 causes to people’s everyday lives.
Prior to this, people had to isolate for 10 days after a positive test or if they started suffering with the main symptoms of Covid.
However the UKHSA has strongly advised those who end self-isolation on day seven to limit their close contact with other people where possible and continue working from home.
Analysis suggested that a seven-day isolation period alongside two negative lateral flow test results had nearly the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period without testing.
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Studies have also demonstrated that lateral flow device (LFD) tests are just as sensitive at detecting the Omicron variant as they are for Delta.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged caution over Christmas this evening, December 21, but announced that no further restrictions would be implemented before December 25.
UKHSA chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said anyone with coronavirus symptoms should still get a PCR test as soon as possible.
She said: “Covid-19 is spreading quickly among the population and the pace at which Omicron is transmitting may pose a risk to running our critical public services during winter.
“This new guidance will help break chains of transmission and minimise the impact on lives and livelihoods.
“It is crucial that people carry out their LFD tests as the new guidance states and continue to follow public health advice.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the new advice should help reduce the disruption to people’s everyday lives.
He said: “We want to reduce the disruption from Covid-19 to people’s everyday lives.
“Following advice from our clinical experts, we are reducing the self-isolation period from 10 days to seven if you test negative on an LFD test for two days running.
“It’s vital people keep playing their part by testing regularly and isolating if they test positive.
“And I urge you to get boosted now to protect yourself and those around you.”
The UKHSA added that unvaccinated adults who have come into contact with someone infected with coronavirus must still self-isolate until 10 days after their estimated date of exposure to the virus.