Javid says tests can replace isolation for Omicron contacts

Sajid Javid announces new rules for Omicron contacts to reduce impact on the economy.

Woman In Mask Holding Sign At Shop Window Closed Due To Covid-19

 

The Health Secretary has announced that anyone in England who has come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Omicron and who is vaccinated no longer has to isolate for 10 days in order the reduce the impact on the economy of a new wave of infection.

Instead they will be asked to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days. Different rules apply in other parts of the UK.  Sajid Javid also published regulations to extend mandatory vaccination for care workers to NHS and social care workers who have direct contact with patients from 1st April which were passed by Parliament.

Care workers who work directly with vulnerable people have had to be double jabbed since 11th November. Javid said that “contrary to what some feared we’re not aware of any care home closures where vaccination as a condition of deployment has been the primary cause”.

The settings in which the new rules for NHS and social care staff will apply include NHS hospitals and GP and dental practices, regardless of whether a provider is publicly or privately funded. For now the Government is restricting vaccination to two doses, ie not the booster, but will keep this under review.

The Government says that it has seen a net increase of over 55,000 NHS staff vaccinated with a first dose of the vaccine since it consulted on the mandatory vaccination policy in September.

The announcement on self-isolation has brought some confusion among childcare workers.  The Early Years Alliance has called on the government to urgently clarify the current rules on what action parents of children aged under five should take if their child is confirmed as a close contact of a positive Covid case.

Previously, government guidance stated that children aged under five were “advised to take a PCR test” if someone in their household tested positive for a non-Omicron variant of Covid-19 and under-fives were also included in rules that required all close contacts, regardless of age or vaccination status, to isolate if they were confirmed as a close contact of a suspected or positive Omicron case.

However, the new self-isolation rules only initially applied to fully-vaccinated adults or children aged between five and 18. The Early Years Alliance was angry that under fives had been omitted, meaning those living in households with Covid positive people can still attend nursery. On Thursday, the Government announced a change to the wording, stating that children under five who live with someone who is Covid-positive should “take a PCR test as soon as possible”.

Meanwhile, the IMF has called for the UK government to bring in a form of furlough support if businesses are badly affected by the Omicron variant, for instance, due to staff shortages or cancellations.



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