Covid: Self-isolation cut to seven days with testing and new restrictions in Europeon December 22, 2021 at 7:57 am

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Five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday morning.

Here are five things you need to know about the coronavirus pandemic this Wednesday morning. We’ll have another update for you this evening.

1. Self-isolation cut to seven days with testing

As coronavirus cases surge, and as businesses, health and rail services feel the effects of staff shortages caused by the virus, self-isolation guidance is changing to help minimise disruption. Instead of having to quarantine for 10 days as we’ve come to expect, it’s being slashed by up to three days for people in England. Anyone who is positive for Covid can stop isolating if lateral flow tests return a negative result on days six and seven. There are caveats, however. Read more here.

A person takes a lateral flow Covid-19 test

Image source, Getty Images

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2. Europe reinstates restrictions

As Omicron’s become the dominant strain in many European countries, some including Germany and Portugal are introducing post-Christmas restrictions. Increased social distancing, limits on people at gatherings and working from home are some of the measures that will come into force. The moves comes as the World Health Organization warns the Omicron surge will push health systems towards the brink of collapse.

People queue for Covid tests in Lisbon, Portugal

Image source, Reuters

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3. Israel’s fourth jab plan

As Israel braces itself for a wave of infections from the latest variant, it’s looking to roll out a fourth dose of the Covid vaccine, making it the first country to do so. The Middle Eastern country’s experts recommend a fourth booster for over-60s and health workers. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says it will “assist us in getting through the Omicron wave that is engulfing the world”.

An elderly man being vaccinated

Image source, Getty Images

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4. Nasal spray to prevent Covid?

A trial to see whether squirting a blood thinner into the nose could offer protection against Covid is taking place in Australia. The spray, which uses the cheap drug heparin, is being tested to see if it neutralises Covid’s spike protein as researchers say it appears to make a person with the virus non-infectious. If successful, it could be used with vaccines and other measures.

A scientist holds a bottle of the heparin nasal spray in a Melbourne lab

Image source, MONASH UNIVERSITY

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5. Seven days of isolation

Photographer Richard Tymon and his family were holed up in a hotel room in Sweden after one of them tested positive for coronavirus. He decided to capture their seven days of isolation in which his wife Claire worked every day, and “playing chess, watching Christmas movies and card games all helped to pass the time”. Take a look.

Richard Tymon and his family in isolation

Image source, Richard Tymon

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Government statistics show 147,433 people have now died, with 172 deaths reported in the latest 24-hour period. In total, 11,542,143 people have tested positive, up 90,629 in the latest 24-hour period. Latest figures show 7,801 people in hospital. In total, 51,537,827 people have received their first vaccination. Updated 21 Dec.

And there’s more…

As Omicron cases rise rapidly, would it be worth introducing tougher measures? Our health correspondent Nick Triggle has investigated, take a look.

You can find more information, advice and guides on our coronavirus page.

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