Scottish Daily Mail

Quarantine won’t be cut to f ive days, says Yousaf

- By Kate Foster Scottish Health Editor

THE Scottish Government is refusing to drop Covid quarantine to five days despite calls for the measure in England.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf insisted the move is not being considered after UK Government Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said cutting England’s quarantine from seven days to five would support services.

Mr Yousaf said it had already been a risk for the Scottish Government to limit the isolation period from ten days to seven.

He added: ‘The reason why we have made that decision – and it’s important to say that the UK nations all moved at a different pace on this – is that it’s not a risk-free option.

‘We wanted time to consider whether or not we would, inadverten­tly, for example, accelerate the transmissi­on of the virus by cutting that isolation period.’

Mr Yousaf said the Scottish Government is intending to keep the matter under review, adding: ‘We’re not contemplat­ing at this stage going from seven days to five.

‘We’ve just made the change from ten days to seven days. It’d be sensible to see the impact and the effect of that. But, clearly, we’re always guided by the science.’

Mr Yousaf’s comments came as he renewed his appeal for people to get vaccinated after the Omicron strain of coronaviru­s caused infections to surge across Scotland.

He said more than three million people have had a booster or third dose, which he said offered ‘strengthen­ed protection from the virus and reducing the risk of hospitalis­ation’. ‘We believe Omicron has not yet peaked and the pressure being felt by the health and social care system is extremely high,’ he said.

Mr Zahawi, the former vaccines minister, argued that reducing the isolation period to five days could help reduce staffing shortages.

He said: ‘It would certainly help mitigate the pressures on schools, on critical workforce and others.

‘I would absolutely be driven by advice from the experts on whether we should move to five days.’

He added: ‘I hope we will be one of the first major economies to demonstrat­e how you transition from pandemic to endemic and deal with this, however long it remains with us, whether five, six, seven, ten years.

‘So, to protect ourselves and the NHS it is vital people complete the vaccinatio­n course for which they are eligible.’

More than £6billion has been spent on testing with lateral flow devices and Mr Zahawi denied reports there are plans to charge for such tests.

‘This is absolutely not where we are at,’ he said. ‘For January alone, we’ve got 425million lateral flow tests coming in and they will continue to be available for free.’

Comment – Page 16

‘It’s not a risk-free option’

 ?? ?? ‘Guided’: Humza Yousaf
‘Guided’: Humza Yousaf

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