Covid in Wales: Isolation for vaccinated contacts to end in August

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NHS Covid-19 appImage source, Getty Images
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11,000 were told to isolate in Wales in one week of July.

Isolation for fully vaccinated people in close contact with a positive Covid case is expected to end during August.

The Welsh government reiterated its plans after it emerged 11,417 people were told to quarantine by the NHS Covid app between 8 and 15 July.

It is also discussing whether further measures are needed in the NHS and other critical services.

But it has not joined England in backing a list of key workers that will be exempt from isolation.

The Welsh government said it intends to ease the restriction on isolation during the next three week review period, which begins on 7 August - but a precise date has not been set.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said the number of people being asked to self-isolate, whether by the app or by a contact tracer, has been increasing as cases rise.

It is a legal requirement to isolate if told to by a contact tracer, but the same legal duty does not apply to the app.

However, the Welsh government said app users should follow the instruction "to help minimise the virus' spread".

While 11,417 were asked to isolate in Wales the week ending 14 July, 607,486 alerts were sent in England.

There had been 9,940 people who received an alert in Wales the week before. In the week ending 2 June, it was 457.

Ms Morgan said that case rates and contacts are not at the levels seen elsewhere in the UK.

But she said: "The increase in notifications to contacts advising them to self-isolate illustrates that the NHS Covid 19 App is working effectively and doing what it is designed to do."

"In August, as part of the next 21 day review cycle, we aim to remove the requirement for people who have been fully vaccinated to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive."

The review cycle begins on 7 August, when the Welsh government plans to end most of Wales' coronavirus rules.

"We will also consider other potential exemptions, such as for those under the age of 18," she wrote.

She added that in the next few weeks there is potential for critical services, such as the NHS and social care, to face "additional pressures" because of contacts self-isolating.

The minister said they working closely with the NHS and social care "to agree effective mitigation".

"Our regional incident management teams who are responsible for Covid prevention and response planning have also been asked to consider whether isolation poses any risks to critical services and infrastructure and advise on any possible response that may be considered necessary."

People asked to self-isolate by contact tracers are required to isolate for ten days.

The Welsh Conservatives' Russell George called for a review of the app: "We can't afford to lose public confidence and this isolation period needs to be urgently reviewed."