The self-isolation period in Wales is to be cut to a minimum of five full days, the Welsh Government has said.

The new rules mean people will be able to end their isolation as long as they have two negative lateral flow tests on days five and six.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan has confirmed the changes will come into force from this Friday (January 28), the same day the country is expected to complete the move to alert level zero.

It will bring the country in line with the measures in place in Northern Ireland and England.

READ MORE: Face masks to remain in Welsh schools until at least half term

Baroness Morgan said: “After carefully reviewing all the available evidence, we believe that testing on days five and six together with five full days of isolation will have the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period.

“But it is really important everyone self-isolates and uses lateral flow tests in the way advised to ensure they protect others from the risk of infection.”

The minister said that while isolation was important to prevent transmission of the virus, long periods of isolation could “have a negative impact on our mental health and can be damaging for our public services and the wider economy”.

Those who test positive on either day five or day six will still have to continue to self-isolate until they have two negative tests taken 24 hours apart or until day 10, whichever comes first.

Conservatives as well as many businesses have been calling for the reduction of the self-isolation period to reduce pressure on the workforce created through Covid-related staff absences.

Financial support through the Self-Isolation Support Scheme will still be available but will return to an offer of £500 reduced from £750 in recognition of the shorter isolation period.

Anyone who needs support with essentials such as shopping and pharmacy goods will be able to access the fund through their local authority and voluntary organisations.

Rhun ap Iorwerth MS, Plaid Cymru spokesperson on health and care, said: “This is undoubtably good news, but it’s now important to understand what needs to happen to bring this self-isolation period down to zero days – how is Welsh Government assessing this, what conversations are happening, and what criteria will need to be met for this important milestone to be reached?

“In the meantime, we must continue to see effective measures to push down community transmission further and to create more long-term resilience, including more action on clean air in schools, encouraging greater vaccine take-up, and ensuring our health and care services are given the support and resources they need.”

The Welsh Conservative and Shadow Health Minister Russell George MS said: “With the booster jab rollout so advanced, the need to keep public services staffed, and the increasing desire to move to a point where we live with the virus, the time for cutting the self-isolation has undoubtedly come.

“Sadly, as has been the case throughout the pandemic with the Labour administration in Cardiff Bay, they replicate decisions taken by the UK Conservative Government but only after playing politics, questioning and undermining such changes days earlier.

“As we move from the pandemic to endemic these political games have to stop as Labour’s response to Omicron harmed Wales, not through mass hospitalisations and deaths, but through thousands having to isolate, leaving public services understaffed, consumers short-changed, and businesses losing out.”

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