Government health chiefs say Covid testing is as good as isolation

Why wait three more weeks to end hell of pingdemic? Calls to scrap scheme grow as even Government health chiefs say daily Covid testing is as good as isolation

  • Ministers refuse to relax self-isolation rules for double-jabbed before August 16
  • But research found daily contact testing was just as good as the isolation policy
  • Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls said the rules are ‘wreaking havoc in the sector’
  • Figures showed 1.13m pupils were out of school due to Covid at the end of term

The clamour to end the ‘pingdemic’ farce intensified last night as the Government admitted daily testing is ‘just as effective’ as ten days in isolation.

Ministers are stubbornly refusing to relax self-isolation rules for the double-jabbed before August 16, despite the restrictions wreaking havoc on businesses.

Yet the Department of Health itself yesterday pointed to research which found daily contact testing was just as good at controlling transmission as the current isolation policy.

In a press release, the department said: ‘Research carried out by the University of Oxford between April and June 2021 and supported by the Department of Health and Social Care found that in schools, daily contact testing was just as effective at controlling transmission as the current ten-day self-isolation policy.’ 

The clamour to end the ‘pingdemic’ farce intensified as ministers are stubbornly refusing to relax self-isolation rules for the double-jabbed before August 16 (file photo)

The admission prompted demands from business leaders and MPs for ministers to listen to their own research and let people take daily Covid tests if they come into contact with a positive case, rather than isolate.

It comes amid a campaign by the Daily Mail to stop vital workers being compelled to isolate unnecessarily.

Ministers have agreed a limited number of exemptions from the isolation policy for critical workers – such as frontline NHS staff, binmen and border officials.

But last night Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the current guidelines are ‘simply not fit for purpose’ and are ‘wreaking havoc in the hospitality sector’.

‘Up to a fifth of staff in the industry are having to self-isolate at any one time, forcing businesses to reduce operating hours or shut completely,’ she said.

‘This latest research shows that a test to release system would help the sector on its road to recovery and effectively prevents the spread of coronavirus.’

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said the guidelines are ‘not fit for purpose’ and are ‘wreaking havoc in the hospitality sector’. Pictured: Empty shelves in Tesco in March 2020

As the pingdemic continued to cause chaos:

  • Shoppers posted images of empty shelves – claimed to have been taken in recent days – from Cornwall, Dorset, London and north Wales;
  • Figures showed a record 1.13million children were out of school due to Covid at the end of term;
  • Ministers faced urgent calls to add key sectors such as car manufacturing and steel production to those allowed an exemption to isolation rules;
  • A study warned that families who lose their holidays because one or more member is ‘pinged’ face losing their cash as well.

Chris Weeks, director of the National Body Repair Association – representing vehicle repairers – warned that failure to include bodyshop workers in the exemptions could hamper the repairing of emergency vehicles.

He said: ‘It is frankly bizarre that bodyshop workers have not been added to the exemption list considering they were on the list of key workers at the beginning of the pandemic.

‘This has the real potential to significantly hamper the repairing of emergency servicing vehicles, including ambulances and police cars.’ Senior Conservative MPs also urged the Government to amend the rules.

Former Cabinet minister David Jones said: ‘If you are double jabbed and are willing to have daily lateral flow tests, it seems to me that there is no danger to anybody else, but you can get on with your everyday life and help the economy.’

And former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘I don’t understand what they are dragging their feet over. Over 70 per cent have had the jabs now – we’re way past critical mass.’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday acknowledged people’s frustrations but told the nation to ‘stick with the programme’ until August 16.

Mr Johnson, who made the comments on his first visit since being released from his own period of self-isolation, said: ‘We do need to use the tools that we have. Self-isolation is the one that we’ve got. I urge people to do it.’

The Unite union says action is needed to protect manufacturing amid concerns industrial companies will be encouraged to switch production overseas.

Steve Turner, Unite’s assistant general secretary, said: ‘It has been frustrating and baffling in equal measure for manufacturers and our members. We have worked extremely hard and companies have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds across the sector to ensure our plants are Covid-safe.

‘Manufacturing simply cannot operate with thousands of workers, sometimes whole shifts, stuck at home as has been the case of late.’

1.13M OUT OF SCHOOL 

A record 1.13million children in England were out of school at the end of term due to Covid-related reasons.

The last Government absence survey of the school year showed 994,000 pupils were self-isolating due to possible contact with a Covid case, 48,000 had a confirmed case and 33,300 had a suspected case. 

And 50,700 were off due to Covid-related school closures. The figures from July 16 were a record high since all pupils returned to school in March. 

A record 1.13million children in England were out of school at the end of term due to Covid-related reasons and 50,700 were off due to Covid-related school closures (file photo)

Pupils have had to isolate for ten days if one in their bubble tests positive. But from August 16 they will only need to self-isolate if they test positive.

Paul Whiteman, of heads’ union NAHT, said: ‘It is clear that this level of disruption cannot continue next year.’

HOLIDAY COVER BLOW

Families who lose their holidays because one or more member is ‘pinged’ face losing their cash as well.

Many travel insurance policies will not cover people who have to cancel after a notification to self-isolate from the NHS Test & Trace app.

Nine in 10 policies do pay out if the policyholder tests positive for Covid. But this falls to six in 10 when a trip is cancelled due to a ping, said analysts Defaqto. 

Amid fears of a hit to bookings, package holiday firm TUI is allowing people pinged to change their dates for free.

Anna-Marie Duthie, from Defaqto, said some insurers would be sympathetic, but added: ‘Policyholders should read their policies carefully to be sure they fully understand what cover they have, and if in doubt contact their insurers before changing any travel plans.’

DRIVER CRISIS WORSENS 

Supermarkets continue to see gaps on shelves as the pingdemic grips Britain.

A longstanding crisis caused by a shortage of delivery drivers is being exacerbated by shop workers having to isolate.

Critics say the Government’s plans to resolve this by extending the exemptions to self-isolation will do little to help because the driver shortage, put as high as 100,000, is largely caused by both Brexit and coronavirus, which has cut EU workers and stalled the training and testing of new drivers.

A longstanding crisis caused by a shortage of delivery drivers is being exacerbated by shop workers having to isolate (file photo) 

Richard Burnett of the Road Haulage Association, warned: ‘In the next two to three weeks we are facing a collapse of the supply chain.’ 

Such is the impact of the driver shortage that Tesco is offering lorry drivers a £1,000 joining bounty to help recruitment.

TOP CHEF: I LIVE IN FEAR OF A PING

A Michelin-starred chef claims his restaurant is ‘at the mercy’ of the pingdemic.

Shaun Hill said he is ‘living in fear’ of a worker being pinged and called the NHS Test and Trace app chaos ‘yet another piece of dog cr*p that I’ve got to avoid treading on’.

The 74-year-old had to shut his doors after losing two chefs to stress after a jobs crisis left staff working ‘more than 12-hour days’.

Now he fears plans to reopen the Walnut Tree near Abergavenny, South Wales, may be at risk. ‘It is costing the country a fortune in productivity,’ he added. ‘It’s ridiculous.’

BUILDERS AREN’T APPY 

Home improvements are being cancelled under rules causing the UK’s pingdemic.

A poll of small builders found 47 per cent have had to down tools as workers or householders are told to isolate by the NHS Test & Trace app, even if double jabbed and testing negative for Covid.

Damian Walters, of the British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom Installation, which surveyed 5,000, said: ‘Installers are taking a hit on their incomes that is as unnecessary as it is unfair.

‘They have spent the last year working to incredibly safe procedures. For half of them to have to stop working just seems utterly ridiculous.’

He is urging the Government to add home improvement workers to the list of those exempt from the edict. 

Source: Read Full Article