Coronavirus: People with no symptoms ‘could be forced to isolate for a fortnight’ once track and trace measures begin

Studies suggest 78 per cent of infected people are asymptomatic

Vincent Wood
Friday 22 May 2020 18:25
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All you need to know from the latest UK coronavirus briefing

People who display no symptoms of Covid-19 could be forced into isolation for a fortnight once the nation moves to the track and trace phase of its pandemic response, it has been reported.

The government is set to launch a nationwide contact-tracing system by June that takes advantage of mobile phone technology to tell people if they have come into contact with a carrier of the virus.

But while the app could allow for the spread of the virus to be monitored as the nation begins to return to normality, the government’s testing tsar has reportedly said those in “high risk” scenarios will be forced to stay in their homes for a fortnight – even if they are asymptomatic.

In a video conference with local NHS chiefs, John Newton said people “who are deemed high risk contact of confirmed [Covid-19] cases will be told to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms at the time” – according to the Health Service Journal.

The measure would mark an escalation in who is, and isn’t, considered a risk when it comes to the virus. Current NHS guidance says that “if you do not have symptoms, you do not need to self-isolate at this time”.

However it is now believed that the majority of those infected with the disease may have been symptomless – with a study published in the British Medical Journal suggesting as many as 78 per cent of people who contract Covid-19 are asymptomatic.

It comes as government data suggests around one in six people in London and one in 20 elsewhere in England have already had the virus.

Data gathered from an antibody surveillance study, and presented by Matt Hancock in the daily Downing Street briefing, suggests 17 per cent of people in London and around 5 per cent in England have tested positive for antibodies to coronavirus.

The Independent has approached the department for health and social care for comment.

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