Boris Johnson is believed to be considering the plan of slashing coronavirus quarantine down to seven days in a bid to control the spread of the virus. The strategy would allow people who have come into contact with a COVID-19 positive patient to leave isolation and return to work earlier than it is now. But Professor of Medicine Paul Hunter has warned cutting the quarantine time may result in an increased risk of transmission.
Speaking to the Today programme, Prof Hunter said: “The average incubation period for the disease is five or six days and only about 85-90 percent of people, by seven days, will have actually developed the illness.
“If we cut that incubation period, what would happen is that 10, maybe 15 percent of people who were infectious was ultimately allowed to be back in public.”
He continued: “The problem is that the large majority of people who are supposed to be self-isolating after a contact actually aren’t.
“So changing the rules for something that isn’t actually being complied anyway isn’t, by itself, going to do much.”
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Asked whether a shorter isolation period could push people into complying more with the restrictions, Dr Hunter admitted it would be possible.
He said: “It may well do. Certainly, if reducing the two weeks to one week means that people actually behave themselves for a week, then that would have a positive benefit.
“I think the issue of whether they would comply with a one week than two weeks is a big if.”
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis on Sunday said no decision has yet been made on slashing quarantine time but insisted the Government is “assessing things” and will decide based on the scientific information available on the virus.
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