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British Health Secretary Sajid Javid House of Commons/PA Images
England

UK braces for 100,000 daily Covid cases, as it eases isolation rules for close contacts

Health Secretary Sajid Javid made the announcement this afternoon.

LAST UPDATE | 6 Jul 2021

RULES ON SELF-isolation are being eased for the fully vaccinated and under-18s in England, British Health Secretary Sajid Javid has announced, as the UK braces for the number of daily new cases to more than treble to reach 100,000.

The Delta variant now accounts for nearly all new Covid-19 cases in Britain, and daily infection rates have soared to nearly 30,000 in recent days.

Javid said that figure was likely to reach 50,000 a day by 19 July, and as high as 100,000 later in the summer – just ahead of schools reopening.

But the vaccination campaign has “weakened” the link with hospitalisations and deaths, he stressed to MPs, saying that inoculations are “our wall of defence”.

More than 86% of adults in the UK have received at least one jab, with 64% fully vaccinated, according to National Health Service data.

From 16 August: Less strict self-isolation rules

Javid announced to the House of Commons today that children and the fully-vaccinated who have come into contact with a coronavirus case will not need to shut themselves away for the 10-day isolation period once the change comes into force on 16 August.

The Health Secretary’s announcement follows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to tear up England’s coronavirus regulations at Step 4 of the road map, expected on 19 July.

Javid told MPs that from 16 August, anyone who is a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate if they have received two doses of a vaccine and have given the second jab a fortnight to take effect.

“As we make this change, we will be drawing on the huge capacity we have built for testing and sequencing and advising close contacts who are fully vaccinated to take a PCR test as soon as possible so they can get certainty about their condition,” he said.

Anyone who tests positive will have to self-isolate, regardless of their vaccination status.

“This new approach means that we can manage the virus in a way that is proportionate to the pandemic while maintaining the freedoms that are so important to us all,” he said.

As under-18s are not routinely jabbed, a similar exemption from self-isolation rules will be extended to them.

Anyone under the age of 18 who is a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate.

“Instead they will be given advice about whether they should get tested, dependent on their age, and will need to self-isolate only if they test positive.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was also setting out changes to the “bubble” system in schools today.

And Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will update MPs later this week on how to “remove the need for fully-vaccinated arrivals to isolate when they return from an amber list country”.

Javid said: “Step-by-step, jab-by-jab, we are replacing the temporary protection of the restrictions with the long-term protection of the vaccine so we can restore the freedoms which we cherish and the experiences which mean so much for us all.”

With reporting from AFP.

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