The investigation carried out by The Telegraph found out that those who have tested positive for Covid-19, together with their loved ones, are still being asked to self-isolate for 10 days by the NHS in the message. Currently, the Government has said the self-isolation period can be cut to a week or less for most people, providing they self-test.
An email seen by The Telegraph from officials at NHS Test and Trace sent on Christmas Day, revealed the wrong information.
The email stated: “You recently tested positive for Covid-19 and must now stay at home and self-isolate for at least 10 days.”
A similar text message, sent from the official NHS result number, said: “Make sure you and the people you live with continue to self-isolate for 10 days.”
The text also fails to mention the rule change on December 14, which meant contacts of Covid cases who are fully vaccinated or under 18 can avoid isolation by testing daily for a week instead, according to the report.
On Tuesday, there were a record 129,471 new Covid cases in the UK.
Confusion over the self-isolation rules can jeopardize the attempts to keep the economy and key public services operating amid a record-breaking surge in Covid cases.
A senior source told the Telegraph that NHS England “were not involved” in sending the texts, adding that the messages were handled by Test and Trace, part of the UK Health Security Agency.
A UKHSA spokesman told the publication: “Legislation on the self-isolation period remains 10 days but as widely publicised by UKHSA, our guidance has been updated to include an exemption that can be applied to reduce self-isolation to seven days in most cases, if you test negative on two lateral flow tests consecutively and taken at least 24 hours apart, with the first test taken on day six at the earliest.
“The stay-at-home guidance for people testing positive and their household contacts is clear and widely communicated to ensure people know how to protect themselves and others.”
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On Tuesday, British scientists argued that the length of time needed to self-isolate could be cut further.
Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford, said that he would back a move to five days if there was science to support the move.
He told BBC Radio 4: “That’s one way to deal with the quarantine issue.
“My view is that natural flow tests are quite a good way of marking infectiousness and you could have sequential lateral flow tests.
“That is, in my view, a much better way to measure and quantitate whether we’re allowing people to go back into the community who are infectious.”
Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said that the Government should consider abandoning self-isolation for those catching coronavirus within months, to allow the country to begin living with the virus.
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He told BBC Breakfast: “We’re going to have to let people who are positive go about their normal lives as they would do with any other cold.
“I think the whole issue of how long are we going to be able to allow people to self-isolate if they’re positive is going to have to be discussed fairly soon, because I think this is a disease that’s not going away.
“So personally, I think it would be unlikely that we are going to do anything like that whilst we’re still coping with omicron, but once we’re past Easter, perhaps, then maybe we should start to look at scaling back, depending on, of course, what the disease is at that time.”