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England ends self isolation and offers return to work guidance for close COVID contacts

From today, 16 August 2021, England is changing the requirements to self-isolate following close contact with a positive COVID-19 case.

In a letter, Updated PHE guidance on NHS staff and student self-isolation and return to work following COVID-19 contact, fully vaccinated staff will no longer be expected to isolate and will be expected to return to work. 

This is also supported by DHSC guidance.

However, in the letter NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&I) ask providers to ensure that the following safeguards are put in place for them to safely do so:

  • the contact should obtain a negative PCR test prior to returning to their workplace (staff should not attend work while awaiting the PCR test result)
  • the staff member has had two doses of an approved vaccine, and is at least two weeks (14 days) post double vaccination at the point of exposure
  • provision of subsequent, daily negative LFD antigen tests for a minimum of 10 days before commencing a shift (with test results reported to Test and Trace via the web portal and to their duty manager or an identified senior staff member). Any contact who has a positive LFD test should self-isolate and arrange a PCR test
  • the staff member/student is and remains asymptomatic; and
  • continued use of infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, in line with the current UK IPC guidance.

Any staff member who has not had both doses of the vaccine, or who is living directly (i.e. in the same household) as a positive contact, should continue to isolate in line with Government guidance.

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