Joe Biden's Covid strategy savaged by Johnson as PM takes dig at rule changes

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Last week US health authorities reduced the number of days of isolation for asymptomatic cases from 10 to five. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said the asymptomatic people after isolation should follow five days of wearing a mask when around others.

The US made the decision to help reduce the number of people off work with Covid.

With Omicron far more transmissible than previous variants there have been fears that the strain’s rapid spread will overwhelm key public services due to the number of staff isolating.

Mr Johnson has found himself under increasing pressure from backbench MPs and businesses to follow the US and reduce the isolation time in England.

However, speaking to broadcasters on a visit to a vaccination hub at Stoke Mandeville Stadium in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, he rejected the demands.

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In a thinly-veiled swipe at the US’s decision he said isolating for just five days risked leading to even more people off work.

Mr Johnson warned a rise in the risk of transmissibility by reducing the isolation period could lead to even more infections and even more forced to quarantine.

The Prime Minister said: “We’ll continue to look at the infectivity periods, but the key thing is we don’t want to be releasing people back into the workplace when they’re still infectious.

“And the risk is you’d increase the numbers of people going back into the workplace who are infectious by a factor of three.

“So you might perversely have a negative effect on the workforce if you see what I mean, so that’s the argument we’re looking at.”

Britons living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are currently required to isolate for up to 10 days, but can be released early if they return negative tests lateral flow tests on days six and seven.

READ MORE: Omicron ‘watershed moment’ to end Covid lockdown rules in England

Official figures show that 110,000 staff were off sick on New Year’s Eve with almost 50,000 because of the virus.

Mr Johnson admitted today that pressure on the NHS for the “next couple of weeks and maybe more” is going to be “considerable”.

He added: “I think we’ve got to recognise that the pressure on our NHS, on our hospitals, is going to be considerable in the course the next couple of weeks, and maybe more.”

The Conservative leader pledged to “make sure that we look after our NHS any way that we can” and told reporters he was looking at ways to re-distribute staff to help hospitals struggling.

He said: “I appreciate the pressures that our hospitals are under, I think it’s vital that we make sure that we help them by trying to contain the pandemic in the ways that I’ve set out.

“So do all the things that I’ve said, make sure we follow a Plan B, get boosted but also help the NHS with their staffing requirements, and we’re looking at what we can do to move people into those areas that are particularly badly affected.”

President Biden’s chief medical adviser Dr Fauci last week defended the decision to reduce quarantine to five days.

“If you are asymptomatic and you are infected, we want to get people back to jobs – particularly those with essential jobs to keep our society running smoothly,” he said.

“Instead of keeping people out of action, out of work, out of society, for 10 days, if you’re infected and without symptoms then you have five days of isolation and then you can go back out into society with a mask worn consistently.”

He added “nothing is going to be 100 percent” when asked if he was certain the strategy would not lead to a new surge in infections.



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