Covid: Double-vaccinated contacts in England told to take daily rapid testson December 12, 2021 at 1:35 pm

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The change will mean those in close contact with the Omicron variant no longer need to self-isolate.

A rapid lateral flow test

Image source, Getty Images

Double-jabbed people in England who are close contacts of Covid cases will be told to take daily lateral flow tests for seven days from Tuesday.

Those who test positive, develop symptoms, or are unvaccinated should continue to self-isolate for 10 days, under new guidance.

It means people in close contact with suspected or confirmed Omicron variant cases no longer need to self-isolate.

NHS lateral flow tests are free from pharmacies or via online order.

People will not need to isolate if the test is negative and they have had at least two vaccine doses.

The government said the change in guidance “aims to reduce pressures on people’s everyday lives by replacing the requirement for Omicron contacts to isolate for 10 days”.

Anyone who has a positive result from a rapid test should take a confirmatory PCR test to verify the result, as well as continue to self-isolate.

They do not need to continue taking rapid tests during the isolation period.

If the PCR result comes back negative, contacts can leave self-isolation but should continue to take rapid lateral flow tests for the remainder of the seven days.

This change follows a significant rise in Omicron cases across the UK with the new variant expected to become the dominant strain by mid-December.

On Saturday, there were a further 54,073 new cases, including 633 of Omicron – although the real number of Omicron cases is estimated to be much higher.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We are taking this proportionate and more practical measure to limit the impact on people’s day-to-day lives while helping to reduce the spread of Omicron.”

The government says this new advice will be in guidance rather than law initially, but this will be kept under review.

Unvaccinated adults are not eligible for this new policy and must self-isolate for 10 days if they are a contact of a positive coronavirus case – whether Omicron or not.

Mr Javid said: “Vaccines remain our best defence and I urge anyone yet to get a first and second jab to come forward and those eligible for a booster to get boosted as soon as possible.”

Dr Jenny Harries, CEO of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “If you haven’t had any vaccine, a first and second dose still gives you protection against becoming seriously unwell.

“Don’t worry about stepping forwards now – you will be warmly welcomed by our vaccination staff.”

It is hoped daily testing will help identify asymptomatic cases and better understand how the virus is spreading.

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