England removes quarantine for people testing positive for COVID-19
England removes quarantine for people testing positive for COVID-19

England removes quarantine for people testing positive for COVID-19

Individuals with COVID-19 will not be legally required to isolate themselves in the UK starting in the coming week, the UK government has announced, as part of a plan to “live with COVID”, which is also likely to see testing for coronavirus reduced.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said an end to all the legal restrictions imposed to curb the spread of the virus would allow people in Britain to “protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms.” He is expected to present details of the plan to parliament on Monday.

But some of the government’s scientific advisers said it was a risky move that could bring an increase in infections and weaken the country’s defenses against more virulent future strains.

Wes Streetinghealth rapporteur for the main opposition Labor Party, Sunday, Johnson accused of “declaring victory before the war is over.”

Johnson’s Conservative government lifted most virus restrictions in January, scrapping vaccine passes for venues and ending mask mandates in most neighborhoods except hospitals in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which set their own public health rules, have also opened up, albeit more slowly.

A combination of high vaccination rates in the UK and the milder omicron variant means that easing restrictions did not lead to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. Both are falling, although Britain still has Europe’s highest coronavirus numbers after Russia, with more than 160,000 recorded deaths.

In the UK, 85% of people aged 12 and over have received two vaccine doses, and almost two-thirds have received a third booster shot.

Now Conservative government says it will remove “all remaining domestic COVID provisions restricting public freedoms” as part of a “move away from government intervention to personal responsibility.”

The legal requirement to isolate for at least five days after a positive COVID-19 test will be replaced with advisory measures, and coronavirus will be treated more like influenza as it becomes endemic.

The new plan envisages vaccines and treatments that keep the virus in check, though the government said “surveillance systems and emergency measures will be maintained” if necessary.

“COVID will not suddenly disappear and we need to learn to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedoms,” Johnson said.

“We have built a strong protection against this virus over the last two years through the rollout of vaccines, tests, new treatments and the best scientific understanding of what this virus can do,” he said.

The announcement will please many lawmakers from the Conservative Party, who claim the restrictions were ineffective and disproportionate. It could also strengthen Johnson’s position among party lawmakers who have considered an attempt to oust him over scandals, including lockdown-breaking government parties during the pandemic.

Researchers are in doubt

But scientists stressed that much remains unknown about the virus and future variants that may be more serious than the currently dominant omicron strain.

Advisory Group for new and emerging virus threats, who advises the government, said last week that the idea that viruses are gradually becoming milder “is a common misconception.” It said the milder disease associated with omicron “is likely a coincidence” and future variants may be more severe or avoid current vaccines.

Epidemic models advising the government also warned that “a sudden change, such as an end to testing and isolation, has the potential to lead to a return to rapid epidemic growth” if people throw caution to the wind.

Researchers also warned against scrapping free rapid coronavirus tests, which have been distributed in millions of during the pandemic. Health authorities say mass testing has played an important role in slowing the spread of the virus.

Researchers are also concerned that the government may end the infection survey conducted by the Office for National Statistics, which is considered invaluable because it tests people whether they have symptoms or not.

“This is not the time to take risks,” he said Matthew Taylor, CEO of the NHS Confederation, an umbrella group for state-funded health authorities in the UK. “We have to operate in an evidence-based and incremental way.”


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