Health expert warns of public 'cheating' new self-isolation rules
A HEALTH expert based in Scotland has said that the government’s new self-isolation rules will rely on the public being ‘scrupulously honest’.
Self-isolation rules in Scotland were yesterday decreased from a 10-day period to seven days, providing people aren’t showing any symptoms and they show two negative lateral flow tests.
Now, an expert and professor at the University of Dundee who is a respiratory researcher in the School of Medicine is warning that it is possible for people to ‘cheat the rules’ by leaving quarantine without testing as the new measures will rely on public honesty.
Speaking on BBC Good Morning Scotland on Thursday, Professor James Chalmers said that people doing so are putting others at risk as there is a chance they may still be infectious.
He said: “This isn’t that the self-isolation period has been cut from 10 to seven days, it’s still 10 days unless you are able to post two negative lateral flow tests, and it’s very important that people are scrupulously honest with those negative lateral flow tests.
“If you don’t take a lateral flow test, if you just exit self-isolation at day seven, the modelling suggests a 15% risk that you are still infectious, so anybody who cheats these rules is putting others at risk because there is still a risk if you don’t have those negative lateral flow tests.
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“We know that the lateral flows are extremely specific – that means if you’ve got a positive lateral flow, particularly at the moment when there’s a lot of Covid about, you’ve got Covid; the chance of a false positive is something like three in 10,000 so it’s not going to be a false positive.”
Under the new rules, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday, household contacts of confirmed cases will no longer have to self-isolate for 10 days, instead taking lateral flow tests for seven days and isolating if any of these are positive.
This second change applies only to those under the age of 18 years and four months and those who are fully vaccinated, including having had a booster jag, with others still having to isolate for 10 days and take a PCR test.
Ms Sturgeon also announced a further change to the rules so that those who test positive on a lateral flow device no longer need to take a PCR test to confirm the result, if they have no symptoms.
Instead, they must immediately isolate and report the result of their lateral flow test to allow Test and Protect to begin contact tracing.
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Prof Chalmers said that, despite the high number of cases in Scotland, with 16,103 new coronavirus infections announced on Wednesday, the peak is not expected until later this month.
He added: “We can expect this month to see a peak in the number of cases, and the number of hospitalisations to peak around the same time as they did last year, which is towards the end of January.
“So, although it feels like there is a huge number of cases in Scotland at the moment and hospitalisations have doubled in the course of the week, we’re still at a relatively early stage of this and we’ve got probably a week to 10 days of case growth and then a couple of weeks of increases in hospitalisations still to get through.”