People in England who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 will, from 16 August, no longer have to self-isolate after close contact with someone who tests positive, health minister Sajid Javid said.

Mr Javid said the success of the vaccine programme meant it was possible to go further in easing self-isolation rules for those who have received both shots.

"From the 16th of August ... anyone who's a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate if they have been fully vaccinated," he told the House of Commons.

"In line with the approach for adults, anyone under the age of 18 who is a close contact of a positive case will no longer have to self-isolate."

Only those contacts who themselves test positive will be required to self-isolate, he said.

Earlier, Mr Javid said said coronavirus case numbers could reach 100,000 per day later in the summer as restrictions are eased in England.

"As we ease and go into the summer, we expect them to rise significantly and they could go as high as 100,000 case numbers," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"We want to be very straightforward about this, about what we can expect in terms of case numbers.

"But what matters more than anything is hospitalisation and death numbers, and that is where the link has been severely weakened."


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Mr Javid said the world can no longer think only about Covid-19 and ignore the other critical health issues, economic problems and education challenges that have built up during the pandemic.

"We can't live in a world where the only thing that we are thinking about is Covid - and not about all the other health problems, our economic problems, our education challenges and we have to make use of a vaccine that is thankfully working," he told Sky News.

The British government's scientific adviser said lifting restrictions was "a slight gamble" adding: "I think it's justifiable and I'm reasonable optimistic, but policy will have to remain flexible."

Professor Neil Ferguson continued: "At the peak of the second wave 50,000 cases would translate into something like 500 deaths, but that's going to be much lower this time, more like 50 or so.

"The challenge is, there's still the potential of getting very large numbers of cases and so if we get very high numbers of cases a day, 150,000 or 200,000 it could still cause some pressure to the health system."

Meanwhile the head of the World Health Organization's Emergencies Programme has warned countries about lifting Covid-19 restrictions too quickly.

Dr Mike Ryan said not enough people have been vaccinated for any country to lift restrictions too early.

Speaking during a Q&A on Facebook with epidemiologist Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, Dr Ryan said that overall he thinks some countries have made "a very premature rush back to full normality".

"I think were are going to pay a price for that, because we are not there at vaccination, the variants are really there and we have not protected enough people," he added.

Dr Ryan said with cases in the European region running at 500,000 a week and one million a week in all the counties of the Americas, the pandemic is not over.

He said that for a lot of the world "unfortunately, this thing is only getting started".

He urged patience and said there is the potential to end up in "huge trouble" with the Delta variant, which is much more transmissible.

"We just need to be a little more patient. Remember last summer when everything got good and then, everyone kind of relaxed and then we kind of arrived in September and October and ended up in huge trouble.

"I think that's where we are going again with a much more transmissible variant this time around. And that is the issue," he said.

Yesterday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a lifting of restrictions for England even while cases are rising, driven by the Delta variant.

He confirmed he intended to ease measures on 19 July, which will see the ending of laws on mask wearing and social distancing.

Britain has suffered the seventh highest global death toll from Covid-19, but the take-up of vaccines in Britain has been strong, with 86% of adults receiving a first dose and 64% receiving two doses as of yesterday, according to government data.

Public Health England figures indicate that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing the Delta variant from leading to severe illness or hospital admission, especially after two doses.

UK adopted 'bad public policy'

Infectious disease specialist Professor Sam McConkey said the UK has adopted "bad public policy".

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Claire Byrne, Prof McConkey said he has "concerns" about the number of people that would contract Covid-19 and would experience long Covid symptoms for six to 12 months.

"I'm more worried about the less life-threatening issues like anxiety, fatigue, respiratory failure, heart problems that can happen to people who don't die from Covid, but who do end up with things they wouldn't have otherwise had.

"I don't think they factored that into the equation. They're just looking at hospitalisations and risk of death. I think that's an inappropriate way to add things up."

Prof McConkey said 1 in 20 people will experience long Covid symptoms in the first six months after contracting the virus.

Additional reporting Reuters, PA