All adults who have been fully-vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate if they are identified as close contacts of someone with coronavirus from 7 August, the First Minister confirmed today.
The changes to the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect (TTP) service for fully-vaccinated adults will come into effect from 7 August – the same day as Wales is expected to move to alert level zero, if the public health situation allows.
Children and young people under 18 will also be exempt from the need to self-isolate if they are also identified as close contacts of a positive case.
But everyone who tests positive for coronavirus or has symptoms must continue to isolate for 10 days, whether they have been vaccinated or not.
The TTP service will use the Welsh Immunisation Service to identify adults who are fully-vaccinated and who will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are identified as close contacts.
From 7 August, instead of instructing fully-vaccinated adults to isolate, contact tracers and advisers will provide them with advice and guidance about how to protect themselves and stay safe.
The TTP service will provide a “warn and inform” service for all fully-vaccinated adults and under-18s, who are identified as close contacts.
Some extra safeguards will be put in place for those working with vulnerable people, particularly health and social care staff, including a risk assessment for staff working in health and care and daily lateral flow tests. Members of the public will be strongly advised not to visit hospitals and care homes for 10 days.
Everyone identified as a contact of a positive case will continue to be advised to have a PCR test on day two and day eight, whether they are fully vaccinated or not.
The changes will help ease the pressure on vital services caused by the recent rapid rise in Covid cases, driven by the delta variant over the last two months.
Cases have risen by 800% since the end of May, when they were at very low levels. Over the last week case rates have started to fall in all parts of Wales.
Almost 80% of adults in Wales have been fully vaccinated – the best rates in the UK and some of the best in the world.
Announcing the changes to the self-isolation rules, First Minister Mark Drakeford said:
“Self-isolation on symptoms or a positive test result continues to be a powerful measure in helping to break the chains of transmission and stop the spread of the virus. It is important we retain this, even for people who have been fully vaccinated.
“But we know a full course of the vaccine offers people protection against the virus and they are far less likely to contract it when they are identified as close contacts. This means they no longer need to self-isolate for 10 days.
“We can remove the need for self-isolation for the two million adults who have completed their vaccine course, helping to keep Wales safe and working.
“We are also removing the need for children and young people under 18 to self-isolate, recognising the impact long periods out of school and college is having on their well-being and education.”
The current system of support payments for people on low incomes who have to self-isolate because they have either tested positive or are a close contact of someone with the virus, will continue.
Health Minister Eluned Morgan added:
“Unfortunately, as the last couple of months have shown, the pandemic is still with us.
“We need everyone’s help to control the spread of coronavirus – everything we do has an impact on this awful virus.
“Removing self-isolation for people who have had a full course of the vaccine is a really positive step forward but it doesn’t mean the end of isolation for all of us. If we want to see the back of coronavirus, we all need to take this virus seriously and isolate on symptoms and get tested.
“It’s also really important everyone takes up the offer of vaccination. It’s never too late to get vaccinated in Wales – clinics are open in every part of the country.”