Covid-19: Has the self-isolation period changed, when are you most contagious with Covid and how long does it last?

THERE has been a drastic rise in Covid cases in the UK due to the new Omicron variant.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 1:58 pm

England recorded 80,196 confirmed Covid cases on Tuesday, December 21 as Boris Johnson declared that Christmas would not be cancelled this year.

The prime minister announced that there will be no new restrictions before the big day but he said ministers 'can't rule out' any further measurements after December 25.

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The self-isolation period has now changed in England.

With an increase of positive cases across England, it is important to note how long you will need to isolate and when you are most contagious with the virus.

Here is everything you need to know:

Has the self-isolation period changed?

It has been announced that people who are infected with Covid in England will be able to stop self-isolating up to three days early if they test negative twice.

The quarantine period will be reduced from 10 days to seven if those infected provide negative lateral flow results on days six and seven.

The change comes due to the spike in Omicron cases which has created staff shortages for businesses, health, and rail services.

This guidance applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status and anyone who is currently in isolation.

People who tested positive or began to show symptoms on Friday last week could be able to end their isolation before Christmas day if they meet the new conditions.

Officials have stated that people should not end their isolation early if they are still experiencing symptoms and they have advised that those who can end isolation early should limit contact with vulnerable people, avoid crowded places and work from home if possible.

Those who are not double-vaccinated and come in close contact with someone who has tested positive must still isolate for a full 10 days.

What are the common symptoms of Covid?

Common symptoms of the Coronavirus include a new continuous cough and a loss of smell and taste which could begin around five days after catching the virus.

Whereas symptoms for Omicron can differ from other variants.

These symptoms can include:


-Body aches and pains


-Night Sweats

-Sore throat

-Dry cough


-Runny nose



These side effects can be eased by plenty of rest and taking paracetamol but if you are worried about your symptoms, visit the NHS online or call 111.

When are you most contagious with Covid?

Those who have Covid-19 are able to infect other people from around two days before they show symptoms, according to the government.

They also state that you can remain contagious with the virus up to 10 days after displaying symptoms.

Dr Coetzee told the Daily Mail: ‘The symptoms presenting in those with Omicron are very, very mild compared with those we see with the far more dangerous Delta variant.

‘Patients typically present with muscle pain, body aches, a headache, and a bit of fatigue.

‘And their symptoms don’t seem to get any worse than that.

‘After about five days they clear up, and that’s it.’

If you test positive through a lateral flow or PCR test, your self-isolation period will include the day your symptoms started or the day you had the test.

How long does Covid last?

Many people tend to feel better in a few days or weeks after having the virus but this may not be the case for everyone.

According to the NHS website, the chances of having long-term Covid symptoms do not seem to be linked to how ill you are when you first get the virus.

Those who have mild symptoms at first could then go on to have long-term problems.

Symptoms of long Covid can include:

-Chest pain or tightness

-Shortness of breath


-Difficulty sleeping

-Problems with memory or concentration (known as 'brain fog')


-Heart palpitations

-Pins and needles

-Depression and anxiety

-Joint pain

-Earaches and tinnitus

-Diarrhoea, nausea, stomach aches, loss of appetite


-High temperatures, headaches, cough, sore throat, and changes to smell and taste.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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