BRITS with coronavirus symptoms must now self-isolate for three extra days under tough new rules aimed at preventing a second wave, it was confirmed today.
Evidence suggests that people are still infectious and can transmit the killer virus between days seven and nine of catching it, scientists warned.
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Beforehand, anyone with a new cough, fever or loss of taste or smell was told to self-isolate for just seven days.
But from today, anyone who tests positive are barred from leaving their home for ten days.
Government scientists claim there is a “low, but tangible possibility that patients are infectious between seven and nine days” after they fall ill.
With everyone now able to get a Covid test, officials say only a relatively small number of people will be impacted.
The tougher stance comes as cases continue to spike in parts of Europe, threatening to derail plans for Brits to return to work and schools to reopen.
The decision to toughen self-isolation rules was taken by all of the UK’s chief medical officers.
They said in a statement earlier: “People with COVID-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between 7 and 9 days after illness onset.
"It is now the correct balance of risk to extend the self-isolation period from 7 to 10 days for those in the community who have symptoms or a positive test result.
"This will help provide additional protection to others in the community."
The medical experts also said that it was important to make the change ahead of autumn and winter "when we may see increased community transmission".
Statement from all four medical officers in the UK
The UK's Chief Medical Officers said in a statement this morning:"In symptomatic people COVID-19 is most infectious just before, and for the first few days after symptoms begin.
"It is very important people with symptoms self-isolate and get a test, which will allow contact tracing.
"Evidence, although still limited, has strengthened and shows that people with COVID-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between 7 and 9 days after illness onset.
"We have considered how best to target interventions to reduce risk to the general population and consider that at this point in the epidemic, with widespread and rapid testing available and considering the relaxation of other measures, it is now the correct balance of risk to extend the self-isolation period from 7 to 10 days for those in the community who have symptoms or a positive test result.
"This will help provide additional protection to others in the community.
"This is particularly important to protect those who have been shielding and in advance of the autumn and winter when we may see increased community transmission."
Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific officer, met with Boris Johnson and Cabinet ministers on Monday to discuss the plans.
The Prime Minister is said to be "extremely concerned" by new outbreaks "bubbling up", both at home and abroad.
Sir Patrick told the PM he is concerned Britain is two to three weeks behind Spain in terms of the spread of infections, The Times reports.
Travellers returning to the UK from Luxembourg and Belgium are among those that will see new quarantine measures imposed as cases spike in Europe, The Sun revealed last night.
Ministers are said to be exploring ways to cut the quarantine time for returning travellers from 14 days to 10 too.
Mr Hancock confirmed work was under way on it, but insisted it wasn't ready yet.
He told Sky: "We're always looking at how we can have the least-possible burden of the measures that we have to put into place so that is something on which we're doing some work but we'll only come forward with a proposal when we're confident that it is safe to do so."
It comes after local outbreaks across the UK, including in Oldham, Wrexham and Staffordshire.
Last night five McDonald's workers tested positive for coronavirus after an outbreak at a store in the West Midlands.
Bosses shut the fast-food outlet in Great Bridge, Sandwell, after the fast food workers became infected amid a near ten-fold rise in local cases.
The government has extended the stay-at-home period for people with Covid-19 symptoms from seven days to 10 days.
Anyone self-isolating must stay at home and not leave.
- a new continuous cough
- a high temperature
- a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell
The seven days starts from when your symptoms started.
Anyone who tests positive is supposed to be contacted by contact tracers to work out who they may have passed the virus on to.
You must also self-isolate for 14 days if you live with (or are in a support bubble with) someone who:
- has symptoms of coronavirus and tested positive, had an unclear result or did not have a test
- tested positive but has not had symptoms
This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.
And hundreds of people queued for coronavirus tests on Wednesday after 200 drinkers were filmed crammed into a pub "like sardines".
Customers and staff who visited the boozer in Stone, Staffordshire, between July 16 and 18 are being urged to get swabs done after 10 people tested positive.
Figures show Oldham has overtaken locked-down Leicester for its rate of coronavirus cases and Blackburn is the most infected.
An updated list of towns and cities with the highest rates of Covid-19 infections has been published by Public Health England.
Leicester had the top spot for weeks since it was plunged into the UK's first local lockdown until Blackburn overtook it last week.
Meanwhile, Rochdale faces tighter lockdown measures later this week as coronavirus cases in the town remain nearly as high as Spain.
Local public health chiefs have already tightened social distancing rules in Rochdale after cases hit 46 cases per 100,000 last week.
Britain's R-rate is now rising in four regions and is above one in the South East and South West, meaning the virus is snowballing as it grows exponentially.
Scientists blame the increase on the easing of lockdown measures.
At Monday's Cabinet meeting, Sir Patrick reportedly called for tougher border controls with he and Chris Whitty, the government's chief medical officer, hoping to avoid a delay to travel restrictions being imposed again.
At the start of the pandemic a failure to beef up checks saw the deadly virus enter the UK 1,300 times allowing it to run rampant.
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