A significant change to Covid rules takes effect in England from today.

From Monday, January 17th, people who test positive for coronavirus will only have to self-isolate for five days, Health Secretary Sajid Javid confirmed.

The change comes after Mr Javid told MPs in the House of Commons that UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data showed “that around two-thirds of positive cases are no longer infectious by the end of day five”.

He added: “After reviewing all of the evidence, we’ve made the decision to reduce the minimum self-isolation period to five full days in England.

“From Monday, people can test twice before they go – leaving isolation at the start of day six.

“These two tests are critical to these balanced and proportionate plans, and I’d urge everyone to take advantage of the capacity we have built up in tests so we can restore the freedoms to this country while we’re keeping everyone safe.”

The Government has been under pressure to bring the situation in England into line with the United States, where the isolation period has been cut to five days.

The previous guidance was for cases to isolate for at least six full days from the point at which they have symptoms or get a positive test, whichever is first, with release from self-isolation after two negative lateral flow test results on days six and seven. People can leave self-isolation on day seven.

The move to cut the isolation period is likely to be welcomed by Tories who called for the change and could help ease pressure on the embattled Prime Minister.

It will also help address staff shortages across the economy and public services by allowing people to return to work earlier.

New Covid rules in England explained

From today (Monday, January 17) isolation for positive cases will be cut to five full days.

Confusingly, this means the actual length of isolation is six days with the day of your first positive test, known as “day zero”, not part of your full isolation period, the UKHSA said.

In order to be allowed to leave isolation, you must test negative on lateral flow tests on day five and six.