Healthcare workers in England could skip isolation orders

New rules would apply to staff whose absence would cause significant risk of harm

epa08931868 Moira Edwards receives an injection of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine mass vaccination centre that has been set up in the grounds of Epsom Race Course, in Surrey, Britain 11 January 2021. The UK government has announced that mass vaccination centres will start operating from 11 January in London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Surrey and Stevenage.  EPA/DOMINIC LIPINSKI / POOL

Frontline health and social care workers in England may be able to continue working even if they are exposed to someone with Covid-19, the government said on Monday.

UK ministers are seeking to ease pressure on the health service caused by rising infections.

Cases of Covid-19 are surging in Britain, causing hundreds of thousands of workers to be told they must spend 10 days at home because they have been identified as a close contact of an infected person.

That has caused staff shortages in schools, businesses and the healthcare system.

To ease the burden on health care, where the rise in cases is causing increased workload, the government announced an exemption for fully vaccinated staff in exceptional circumstances.

The new rules will apply to staff whose absence would cause a significant risk of harm.

Those considered eligible will need to test negative for the virus and take daily tests throughout the period for which they would otherwise have been required to isolate.

"As we learn to live with this virus it's important that we ensure frontline staff can keep providing the best possible care and support to people up and down the country," said Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who is in isolation after testing positive on Saturday.

England is due to lift almost all coronavirus restrictions on Monday to help restart the economy.

But the UK government has warned that while vaccines have reduced death and hospital treatment rates, new infections could rise to record levels of 100,000 cases a day.

Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland make their own policy.

Updated: July 19th 2021, 12:02 AM