All are moving to cut the number of days, as health officials clarified that the recommended quarantine period is shorter in the US than in the UK.
Boris Johnson has said he will “act according to science” on reducing the time period to five days, a measure that could help tackle staff absenteeism in the economy and public services.
The UK Health Protection Agency (UKHSA) has previously stated that the duration of isolation was effectively the same in both the UK and the US, but it has now updated a blog post on the subject to clarify the discrepancy regarding the starting point of isolation. has been done.
The UK health body acknowledged that the advice here is to isolate for at least six full days, with people in the US being asked to isolate for five full days.
But the agency said it believes it is “currently the optimal approach” to remain in isolation until people achieve two negative lateral flow results on days six and seven.
The prime minister is facing calls from lawmakers and business chiefs to follow suit in the UK to help reduce staff absenteeism in the economy and public services.
The isolation period has already been reduced from 10 days to seven, and on Monday Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said “if it is possible to go further we will do so”.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is among ministers keen on the economic benefits of reducing the period to five days, while Education Secretary Nadim Jahvi has suggested the move could help ease staffing problems. may help.
On Tuesday an educational leader said she would be in favor of reducing the isolation period in England to five days because schools are short of staff.
The UKHSA initially stated that the recommended minimum of six full days in the UK counted from the onset of symptoms, while in the US, a five-day isolation began from the day of testing positive, which could be several days after the first. Symptom.
However, in an updated blog post, it now says: “Our advice in the UK is to self-isolate for at least six full days at the point you have symptoms or test positive, whichever is first. “
It continued: “In the United States, the advice is to self-isolate for at least five full days from a single point of view.”
The blog post concludes: “We believe that allowing people to self-isolate after two negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven is currently the optimal approach. It supports people who are unlikely to be contagious to return to work and resume other activities, but continues to protect the wider population from infection.”
The UKHSA said that the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) clarified that it improved after its isolation period began when symptoms first appeared.
The CDC reduced the recommended isolation period there to five days in December.
Dame Maura Regan, chief executive of the Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust, said she would be in favor of reducing the period of isolation, adding that “one of the biggest challenges” at present is “effective supply cover”.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that: “I think the most important thing we have to remember is that it’s important for all children, it’s especially important for students who really are facing exams, and many of them took two, two-and-a-half years of disruption and then the lack of quality teaching is really more disruption for them.”
UKHSA is working on the issue of isolation with the government’s COVID Taskforce in the Cabinet Office.
A UKHSA spokesperson said on the change in their blog post: “We updated our blog on 4 January following clarification from the CDC on their separation guidance.
“Our current guidance to release individuals from isolation with two negative lateral flow test results on day 7 suggests a low risk of a person becoming infectious 24 hours apart – similar to the risk of becoming infectious after 10 days of isolation.
“People in the US are asked to isolate for the full five days, in the UK the advice is to isolate for the full six days.”