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UK Scales Back Quarantine to 10 Days

Beginning Monday arriving passengers can leave quarantine after ten days provided no COVID-19 symptoms develop

Health officials in the United Kingdom have reduced the quarantine period for travelers arriving from high-risk destinations from 14 days to ten days. Beginning Monday, the change affects England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and applies both to contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus within the UK, and arrivals from destinations not on the travel corridor list.

The change comes as health authorities in other countries are also reevaluating the prescribed 14-day self-isolation period. At the beginning of December, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced a change to its quarantine recommendations, also dropping the time period from 14 to ten days, provided no symptoms developed during the subject’s quarantine.

Furthermore the CDC guidelines now say the period of self-isolation could be further reduced from ten to seven days if a COVID-19 test taken during quarantine produced negative results.

According to a joint statement from the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers: “After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to ten days. We urge everyone to self-isolate when appropriate. It will save lives.”

Under the new UK guidelines, travelers from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for ten days instead of 14 days. Travelers who test positive should continue to self-isolate for ten days from onset of symptoms or ten days from point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic.

“The reduction in the quarantine period along with the imminent start of the test-to-release system in England are welcome steps forward that can help boost the safe restart of international travel, increase consumer confidence,” Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association, said.

NHS Test and Trace service are taking the change into account, and passenger locator forms have also been updated. However, the NHS cautions, “Due to the time taken to test technical changes and release updates through the app store,” the NHS COVID-19 app will not update until Thursday Dec. 17.