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Published on Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Govt poised to reduce 14-day quarantine period

Transport secretary Grant Shapps is expected to unveil new rules this week that will cut the amount of time travellers need to quarantine.

Reports suggest the government may reject testing at airports and instead opt for a single test after a period of quarantine far shorter than the current 14 days.

According to reports in The Guardian, another option is for travellers to be tested prior to arrival and again several days after arriving in the UK.

Shapps is expected to set out the new policy on Thursday.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference on Monday, Shapps insisted a period of quarantine could not be avoided but suggested it could be reduced from the existing 14 days.

Without giving specific details about the government's plan, Shapps said any new rules would need to be nuanced than a simple test on arrival at airports.

That would it would only detect about 7% of asymptomatic cases, he said.

"The next stage is to enable testing, which people sometimes wrongly think is a very straightforward thing - 'Why don't you just test people at the airport? If you know they're clear, let people in, job done,'" Shapps said.

"The answer is that in someone who is asymptomatic, not displaying any symptoms, that won't find a very large proportion of cases. In fact the studies show that if you check somebody on the first day that they arrive, you will probably just find 7% of people who actually do have the virus.

"So we have got to be a bit smarter than that. The way to do that is to still have a period of quarantine but also test and be able to release people. I will be saying more about that shortly."

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: "Work is ongoing with clinicians and health experts on the practicalities of using testing to reduce the self-isolation period for international arrivals. The secretary of state has made clear there will be an announcement on this shortly."

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