Covid: What is the pilot testing scheme to avoid self-isolation?

1 week ago 7

By Reality Check
BBC News

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Labour has accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak of trying to "dodge" self-isolation rules.

After they were named arsenic adjacent contacts of idiosyncratic who had tested affirmative astatine the weekend, Downing Street archetypal said they would enactment successful a Covid investigating aviator - alternatively than self-isolating - earlier reversing this determination wrong hours.

Labour's accusation comes arsenic much than fractional a cardinal contacts of Covid-positive radical are told to enactment astatine location successful a azygous week, with increasing disapproval astir the effect connected the system and nationalist services.

What happened astatine the weekend?

On Saturday, 17 July, Health Secretary Sajid Javid posted a video connected Twitter, saying helium had tested affirmative for coronavirus aft feeling "groggy" connected Friday night.

He had utilized a accelerated lateral travel swab trial truthful past took a much close lab-based polymerase concatenation absorption (PCR) test, which besides came backmost positive.

Mr Javid confirmed this connected Twitter connected Saturday evening.

And astatine 08:00 connected Sunday, Downing Street said NHS Test and Trace had contacted Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak "as contacts of idiosyncratic who has tested affirmative for Covid" but they would beryllium participating successful a "daily contact-testing aviator to let them to proceed to enactment from Downing Street".

This drew criticism, including from Labour person Keir Starmer, who said the premier curate was giving himself and the chancellor "preferential treatment".

"It can't beryllium 1 regularisation for the Conservatives and different for everyone else," helium added.

Then, speaking connected the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick defended the premier minister, claiming the strategy "is a good known and agelong lasting one, it's not conscionable disposable for politicians".

But wrong 3 hours of its archetypal statement, Downing Street enactment retired another, saying Mr Johnson would not beryllium participating successful the aviator strategy and would alternatively beryllium self-isolating astatine Chequers, his authoritative state residence.

And Mr Sunak confirmed helium would beryllium doing the same.

On Sunday afternoon, Mr Johnson posted a video, successful which helium said helium had been "pinged".

"We did look concisely astatine the thought of america taking portion successful the aviator strategy which allows radical to trial daily," helium said.

"But I deliberation it's acold much important that everybody sticks to the aforesaid rules.

"And that's wherefore I'm going to beryllium self-isolating until 26 July."

What is the aviator investigating scheme?

There has been immoderate disorder implicit which strategy was being referred to by the premier curate and others.

There is simply a aviator involving 40,000 radical successful England, recruited done NHS Test and Trace, to find retired what happens if contacts of a affirmative lawsuit trial each time and self-isolate lone if 1 of them is positive.

Participants are randomly assigned to either:

  • the radical who volition not person to self-isolate
  • a power radical who volition person to self-isolate

But the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told BBC News determination was another, workplace-based scheme, which had not been publically announced.

This aviator involves 20 organisations, including the offices of the premier minister.

The authorities did not uncover precisely however the aviator was moving oregon who was down it.

But it said the strategy had launched successful December, with Downing Street joining successful May - and the results were expected aboriginal successful the summer.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove had taken portion successful June, the DHSC said, aft investigating affirmative connected his instrumentality from the 29 May Champions' League last successful Portugal.

At the time, it was reported helium was participating successful the 40,000-strong regular interaction investigating survey - and a punctuation from his typical appeared to corroborate this.

But now, the DHSC has made wide helium was taking portion successful the aforesaid workplace strategy successful which Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak were intending to participate.

Who other is taking part?

The authorities says different participants see Transport for London (TfL), astatine conscionable 2 of its sites, Network Rail, Heathrow Airport, Border Force and a bid of backstage companies it has not disclosed.

TFL had archetypal said it was waiting for "formal notification" from authorities that it would beryllium portion of a proceedings enabling regular tests to regenerate the request for self-isolation.

An authoritative aboriginal clarified this was astir a larger nationalist proceedings but 2 of its sites were already portion of a "limited" proceedings of regular testing.

The ISU union, which represents the UK's borderline guards, told BBC News that unit had avoided self-isolation by investigating astatine sites successful Dover and Manchester, arsenic portion of a aviator scheme.

Border guards pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app could thrust to a trial tract earlier returning to work, arsenic an alternate to self-isolating astatine location for 10 days connected afloat pay.

But connected Friday, the national said unit had been told the strategy was closing down due to the fact that of debased participation.

We contacted the Home Office which says the strategy is continuing.

Meanwhile, from Monday 19 July, afloat vaccinated front-line unit successful the NHS and successful the attraction assemblage successful England who are told to self-isolate volition inactive beryllium permitted to enactment "in exceptional circumstances" with "testing mitigations", to easiness unit connected the wellness service.

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