Self-isolation rules could be lifted a month earlier than planned

A message to self-isolate, with one day of required isolation remaining, is displayed on the NHS cor

Boris Johnson has signalled the legal duty to self-isolate could end a month earlier than planned. - Credit: PA

Boris Johnson has suggested that laws requiring people in England with Covid-19 to self-isolate could be lifted within weeks.

The prime minister said he will present his plan for “living with Covid” when Parliament returns from a short recess on February 21.

Part of this plan includes lifting the legal duty to self-isolate a month earlier than planned so long as data remains positive.

At Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, he said: “It is my intention to return on the first day after the half-term recess to present our strategy for living with Covid.

“Provided the current encouraging trends in the data continue, it is my expectation that we will be able to end the last domestic restrictions – including the legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive – a full month early.”

There were 11,471 patients in hospital in England with Covid-19 on February 8, NHS figures show.

This is down 11% on the previous week but still higher than levels before Christmas.

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However just 385 patients were in mechanical ventilator beds, the lowest number since last July.

Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the UK is “past the point” where vaccinating young, healthy children against Covid-19 will do any good.

Experts from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation are expected to present their decision on the issue shortly.

On Wednesday morning, Prof Hunter told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme infection rates in children are “falling really quickly at the moment”, adding: “So I think in many ways we’re past the point where vaccines are actually going to make much difference.”

He said jabs were given to older children to hopefully protect them from interruptions to their schooling, but added: “We haven’t seen that vaccines have actually done a huge amount to stop these interruptions, so I think the benefits are marginal, and it’s probably too late because most kids have already had Omicron.”