QUARANTINE could be scrapped for close contacts of Covid cases and replaced by daily tests, a new study has found.
Instead of staying cooped up at home for 10 days, people exposed to coronavirus could live as normal while taking “as effective” tests for five days.
Brits could eventually not have to carry out lonely quarantines after coming into contact with a Covid positive personCredit: Getty Images – Getty
If they stay negative with each lateral flow test they would potentially never need to isolate.
Researchers from the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases Covid-19 working group say even this could have a 50 per cent reduction in virus transmission.
It would have nearly the same effect as the WHO recommended near-fortnight quarantine – which stops 59 per cent of the spread.
Even another shorter solution proposed by the study would see contacts isolate for seven days before taking a PCR test, which would reduce transmission by 56 per cent.
Both options could reduce the risk of people taking huge financial and social hits while isolating.
It comes as:
In the paper, published in medical journal The Lancet, scientists found: “There is growing evidence that many contacts of cases are unable to effectively quarantine for the entirety of this period, particularly those unable to work from home, or those caring for vulnerable people.
“The increasing availability of testing, particularly rapid, lowcost lateral flow antigen (LFA) tests opens up the possibility of shorter periods of quarantine when combined with a negative test on exit (a test and release strategy), or even the avoidance of quarantine entirely if it is replaced with daily testing.”
Experts believe a shorter isolation period would see more people sticking to the rules, knowing they wouldn’t be stuck inside or missing work for too long.
Billy Quilty, joint-lead author, said: “Daily rapid tests for at least five days may allow for the quarantine requirement to be removed entirely, with self-isolation required only upon the onset of symptoms or a positive rapid test result.
“This strategy may allow for critical essential workers to continue working if exposed but not infected.”
However, the study found the ideal scenario would be for 10 days of self-isolation after a positive test, and close contacts quarantining with daily LFA tests for five days.
They believe this would curb around 80 per cent of onward virus transmission.
Dr Julian Tang, Honorary Associate Professor/Clinical Virologist, University of Leicester, said: “The approach modelled in this study could improve compliance theoretically.
“But it may be difficult to implement such timely testing/result reporting in the real world – and even with the testing, without enforcement, people may still break 7-day quarantine – if they feel the need to do so.
“Finally, as one of the author’s states: ‘However, our findings must be confirmed by studies in real-world conditions before they can be adopted as policy’, I totally agree.”
Lateral flow tests are able to return results in just 30 minutes.
Back in December the accuracy of the quick tests was questioned after lateral flow devices used in the community testing rollout in Liverpool missed half the cases, reports the British Medical Journal.
However, the Liverpool trial found that regular, rapid testing cut transmission by 90 per cent and can help Britain to “get back to normal,” Health Minister Lord Bethel said back in November.
And now the Government insists they can be “reliably used” to detect coronavirus.