Scrapping Isolation And Free Tests Could Cause ‘Rapid’ Covid Growth, Says Sage

Boris Johnson is expected to end all domestic Covid rules next week.
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England could see a “rapid” growth in Covid cases if self-isolation rules and free tests are scrapped next week as planned, the government’s scientific advisers have said.

Boris Johnson is expected to lift all remaining domestic rules next week as part of a plan for the country to begin living with coronavirus.

The prime minister revealed on February 9 he wanted to end restrictions a month earlier than originally planned.

A week earlier, on February 2, experts on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) provided ministers with an analysis of a study by the University of Warwick.

“Warwick’s analysis indicates that, while behaviour change following the lifting of restrictions has previously been gradual, a sudden change, such as an end to testing and isolation, has the scope to lead to a return to rapid epidemic growth,” the scientists said.

The paper from the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M-O) subgroup of Sage, was published on Friday.

It added that there was the potential for transmission to increase “by between around 25% to 80%” if the population returned to pre-pandemic behaviours with no mitigations.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has also called on the government to provide compelling scientific evidence to back up any plans, as it warned ending the legal requirement to self-isolate after a positive test would be a “leap in the dark”.


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