Analysis: how long should I isolate myself before Christmas? Since few of us have the luxury of ten days at home, what does science say about shorter periods of isolation? By Henry Bodkin, Health and Science correspondent December 16, 2020 • 6:54 pm Coronavirus article bar with counter Of all the Covid-related slogans we talked about in 2020, the most striking was undoubtedly “don’t kill grandma”. Health Secretary Matt Hancock deployed it frequently in the fall as the second wave gained momentum. But it’s now – as millions reflect on the dangers of seeing vulnerable lovers over Christmas – that the phrase seems most brutally relevant. For the instinctively cautious, perhaps quietly hoping that a rule change would force their hand, Boris Johnson’s announcement would have come only as partial help. Although the prime minister urged the public to “stay small, short, local,” people can still travel and up to three households can mix for five days. The choice remains with us. Many will therefore attempt to complete a period of self-isolation before seeing elderly parents. Government rules impose a ten-day isolation period for those who have tested positive, exhibited symptoms, or have been in close contact with someone infected with the virus. However, for people who don’t fit into those categories but just want to be super careful, few will have the luxury (if that’s the right word) of ten days at home. The Christmas Coronavirus Rules So what does science say about shorter isolation periods? The first key factor to keep in mind is the incubation period: the time between exposure to Covid-19 and the onset of symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, it is between four and six days on average, although it can be longer. This leads to the question of transmissibility: When, if you have been exposed to the virus, are you most likely to transmit it? Technically, you can pass the disease on for up to three days before you get sick yourself, although in reality it is the 24 hours before symptoms develop that is the real danger zone. This point is crucial. This means that people who only plan on three or four days of isolation starting on Monday (perhaps after a busy weekend of last-minute shopping and dining) might be the most contagious the day before. Christmas, while feeling as fit as a violin. For those who plan to self-isolate from Friday night, giving them five full days before December 24, the risk appears lower. Professor Paul Hunter, an infectious disease expert at the University of East Anglia, said: “Within five days of infection, about half of the people who are going to show symptoms will have had them.” He added that for asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19 – about one in five – their chances of infecting others were about a third of that of symptomatic carriers. Professor Peter Horby, a global health expert at the University of Oxford, who sits on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) committee, said the five or six day isolation “will give you a little more chance of developing symptoms, or if you are asymptomatic, to overcome the infectious period. “” Any decision to self-isolate should be strongly encouraged, “he said.” The longer it takes the better. ” Related Topics UK Coronavirus Lockdown, Self-isolation, Pandemics & Epidemics, Coronavirus, Christmas Twitter Icon Facebook Icon WhatsApp Icon Email Icon Comment Speech Bubble Advertising More Stories Facebook Icon WhatsApp Icon Email Icon Comment Bubble dialogue.
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