Coronavirus UK: Moonshot testing ‘will fail unless 14-day quarantine is relaxed’, say advisors


Moonshot tests of millions will fail unless the 14-day quarantine period for contacts is relaxed because people are ignoring the ‘ridiculous’ rule, Government advisors have warned.

Contacts of coronavirus sufferers are currently expected to self-isolate for two weeks, with rule-breakers facing a hefty £10,000 fine.

But one senior figure advising the Government told The Times ‘compliance is really low’ as they warned the test and trace programme was dead.

The Government last night revealed every resident of Liverpool will be offered a Covid test, in the first major step for Operation Moonshot – the scheme that the Government hopes will help it get on top of the crisis by the spring.

Starting from Friday, the city’s 500,000 residents will be asked to go for regular checks. If successful, the city-wide approach is expected to be rolled out to towns and cities nationwide.

The Prime Minister (pictured today) outlined a ‘big, big push’ on adherence to quarantine rules during the lockdown amid fears that people are not completing the full 14-day period.

It comes as the Prime Minister yesterday outlined a ‘big, big push’ on adherence to quarantine rules during this month’s lockdown amid fears that people are not completing the full 14-day period.

Ministers will reduce the period to between 10 and seven days, with seven days being the most probable number, it was previously reported.

Meanwhile, experts have warned the new capacity to test millions of people in just 15 minutes should be used to lower the isolation period.

They said people who come into contact with a known Covid-19 case should be allowed to carry on with their lives while being tested every 48 hours. 

Robert West, professor of health psychology at University College London and a member of the government’s SPI-B behavioural advisory group, blamed poor ‘financial and practical support’ on people ignoring the current rules.

‘If you look at the demography of people who haven’t isolated they are struggling financially, in insecure jobs and have caring responsibilities. That is really pretty crucial.’ 

Another expert, Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at Oxford University, said the new tests – expected to begin trials in Liverpool this week – must reduce the number of people isolating.

He told the Today programme on Radio 4: ‘People get pretty irritated when they get told they passed someone in the shops and they now need to quarantine for ten or 14 days. With these tests it should be possible to test these people every two days and they can go about their business provided they remain negative.’ 

A quiet Covid testing facility in Wavertree in Liverpool this afternoon after the Government last night revealed every resident of Liverpool will be offered a Covid test

A quiet Covid testing facility in Wavertree in Liverpool this afternoon after the Government last night revealed every resident of Liverpool will be offered a Covid test

Boris Johnson declared that mass testing, combined with progress on a vaccine and medical treatments, could finally send the virus packing. But there are fears many people may not want to get swabbed if they have to isolate for 14 days after testing positive for the disease.

Flavio Toxvaerd, a lecturer in the economics of infectious diseases at the University of Cambridge, said some people may even take a positive test result as a cue to be less cautious because they’re no longer at risk of infection.  

MASS-TESTING IN LIVERPOOL ‘WON’T SPOT EVERY COVID-19 CASE’

Mass testing in Liverpool will not be able to identify every single case of coronavirus, one the government’s testing chief admitted today.

In the first major step for Operation Moonshoot – the scheme that Number 10 hopes will help the UK get on top of the crisis by the spring, every resident of Liverpool will be offered a Covid test.

But Oxford University’s Professor Sir John Bell, chairman of the Government’s New Test Approvals Group, acknowledged today the tests — which will give results within an hour — will only be able to identify the ‘majority’ of infected people.

However, he insisted the colossal scheme, which will involve the army, will still be effective in curbing the spread of the virus because they will find the people most likely to be super-spreaders.

Starting from this Friday, the city’s 500,000 residents will be asked to go for regular Covid-19 checks. If successful, the city-wide approach is expected to be rolled out to towns and cities nationwide.

Boris Johnson today thanked leaders in Liverpool for ‘volunteering’ their city for the pilot which, if successful, could finally send the virus packing.

The president of Britain’s most powerful business lobby group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), claimed the scheme offers the ‘first true chink of light’ that the virus can be controlled and will enable restrictions ‘to be much more focused’.

And the city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, claimed the trial ‘could enable us to have some semblance of a normal Christmas here in Liverpool’, if it is successful.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Johnson said: ‘Those who have been contacted need to self-isolate.

‘At the moment the proportion of people who are self-isolating in response to test and trace is not yet high enough.’ His demand comes after MPs lined up to criticise the failing service and its embattled head, Dido Harding.

This week, ministers are expected to announce that quarantine periods will be cut to seven days to boost compliance.

It comes amid fears of widespread flouting of the rules, and a failure of the service to reach more than two thirds of contacts of those who have been infected.

Mr Johnson is said to be very concerned by low levels of compliance and believes reducing the time limit will make it easier for people.

Current rules require those who come into contact with people diagnosed with the virus to isolate for 14 days.

They were was adopted after the World Health Organisation said that 99 per cent of those who had been infected would develop symptoms in that time.

However, according to Public Health England, testing people after seven days would identify 85 per cent of those infected.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine also found that a seven day quarantine with a test could pick up 94 per cent of those who have been infected.

Last week Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said that ministers were exploring the possibility but said no decisions had yet been made. 

Boris Johnson today thanked leaders in Liverpool for ‘volunteering’ their city for the pilot which, if successful, could finally send the virus packing.

But one of the government’s testing chiefs admitted today that mass-testing in Liverpool will not be able to identify every single case of coronavirus. 

Oxford University’s Professor Sir John, chairman of the Government’s New Test Approvals Group, acknowledged today the tests — which will give results within an hour — will only be able to identify the ‘majority’ of infected people.

However, he insisted the colossal scheme, which will involve the army, will still be effective in curbing the spread of the virus because they will find the people most likely to be super-spreaders.

But the president of Britain’s most powerful business lobby group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), claimed the scheme offers the ‘first true chink of light’ that the virus can be controlled and will enable restrictions ‘to be much more focused’.

And the city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, claimed the trial ‘could enable us to have some semblance of a normal Christmas here in Liverpool’, if it is successful. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk