The comments come as the UK Health Security Agency warned cutting the Covid isolation period to five days would be “counterproductive”, and could exacerbate staffing shortages

People walking a crowded street
New cases of Covid continue to soar according to the latest figures

A top scientist has suggested ‘anybody who has a cold’ should stay at home and isolate amid a surge in Covid cases.

Sir Frank Atherton, the chief medical officer for Wales, suggested anybody with the common ailment should stay indoors to help curb the spread of the disease.

He questioned whether people with symptoms that included a runny nose or are sneezing should be travelling outside of the house at all.

The comments come as the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) warned that cutting the Covid isolation period to five days would be “counterproductive”, and could exacerbate staffing shortages.

Currently, people who receive negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period, with tests taken 24 hours apart, no longer have to stay indoors for a full 10 days.







Wales’ chief medical officer Frank Atherton
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Image:

Media Wales)

There have been calls to further slash this period to five days.

Speaking to Times Radio Sir Frank Atherton said: “I would say anybody who has a cold, or symptoms of a cold – a runny nose, a cough, sneezing, is it really appropriate for you to go on a train or a plane or a bus?

“You know, stay home, get better.”

Meanwhile, public sector leaders have been asked to prepare for a worst-case scenario of up to a quarter of staff off work as coronavirus continues to sweep across the country.

The Cabinet Office said on Saturday that, so far, disruption caused by Omicron had been controlled in “most parts of the public sector”.

But it said leaders had been asked to test plans against 10%, 20% and 25% workforce absence rates.

NHS England data published on Friday shows Covid admissions were up by 2,370 in England on December 29, the highest figure since January 29.

It brings the total to 12,000 across Britain.

The number of hospital workers absent due to the virus soared by 31% in a week. A total of 24,632 staff members were off on Boxing Day, compared with 18,829 a week earlier.

Sage expert Professor Stephen Reicher told the Mirror we are set to face a “real problem in January” because of festive gatherings.

The latest figures also show more than 1.1million people had a confirmed positive Covid test result between December 27 and January 2, a 43% increase from the previous week.

England recorded a huge 162,572 new cases on New Year’s Day. On Sunday there were a further 137,583 cases of the disease recorded.

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