MINISTERS are poised to cut Covid isolation to five days to help Brits return to work.
It comes as Government research suggests the rule change would only result in an extra two in 100 people ending quarantine while still infectious.
UK Health Security Agency modelling looked at the risk of a positive case spreading the virus after two negative lateral flow tests.
It found eight per cent would still be infectious on day five, compared to 6.2 per cent on day seven.
Ministers are today meeting with experts to discuss the changes, with a decision expected soon after.
Omicron is now the dominant strain in the UK and most people testing positive with the variant are suffering with cold like symptoms.
A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron is milder than other strains in the vaccinated, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
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A health source said: “A decision is imminent, and the mood music is very much towards cutting self-isolation and allowing more people back to work.”
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The army has been drafted in to help the NHS due to crippling staff shortages, while more than one in 12 teachers were off last week.
The cabinet, including the normally cautious Health Sec Sajid Javid, have backed the move to slash the number of days Brits must self-isolate after Covid infection.
Speaking yesterday, Boris Johnson said a decision would be made "as fast as possible".
And schools minister Robin Walker also weighed into the debate, saying he would support reducing the coronavirus isolation period from seven days to five days if the science supported it.
Government scientists have reportedly told Boris Johnson he would have to accept a slightly increased risk of people leaving isolation while still infectious if he wanted to get people back working sooner.
Health secretary Sajid Javid is set to make a statement in the House of Commons this morning relating to the rules.
Just before Christmas isolation was reduced from ten to seven days, but as hospitals and emergency services struggle with absent staff, more changes have been called for.
'BIGGER FISH TO FRY'
On day six and seven of isolation, Brits must have a negative Covid test to come out of isolation – if they continue to test positive then they must continue to isolate until two negative tests are produced or until day 10 of isolation.
The US has already changed its policy to five days and it's not yet clear what the testing policy would be if rules were to change in the UK.
One expert today said that there are bigger risk factors at play than a 'bit of Covid slipping through'.
Professor Tim Spector of King's College London and lead author of the Covid Symptom Study App today said restrictions have had a greater impact on colds and flu than the Omicron variant.
He added: "People are having symptoms for a shorter amount of time, especially in that first week.
"It suggests that the isolation period of a week could be reduced to five days.
"If people are testing negative with ltfs at the end of those five days because the whole period of that infection and getting over it appears to be faster.
"Hospitals being unmanned is far worse risk than the occasional bit of Covid slipping through."
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