People in England who have been double vaccinated against COVID-19 and are identified as close contacts of COVID cases will be told to take daily lateral flow tests for a week from Tuesday.
The change in government policy should mean that less people will need to self-isolate when they are identified as close contacts. From Tuesday, close contacts will only need to self-isolate if they test positive for the virus.
People who are not fully vaccinated, present with COVID-19 symptoms, or test positive for the virus will be told to self-isolate for 10 days.
The Government has said that the move follows a significant rise in cases of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in the UK, which is expected to become the dominant strain within days. Announcing the policy, Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said;
“The Omicron variant is quickly gaining ground in the UK and is expected to become the dominant strain by mid-December.
“We are taking this proportionate and more practical measure to limit the impact on people’s day to day lives while helping to reduce the spread of Omicron.
“Vaccines remain our best defence and I urge anyone yet to get a first and second jab to come forward and those eligible for a booster to get boosted as soon as possible.”
Lateral flow tests are available for free from most pharmacies and can also be ordered online for free delivery.
The new changes will initially be in guidance rather than law, but this is to be kept under review. Under 5s will be exempt from self-isolation and the need to take daily lateral flow tests.