Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Health and Social Services
Our Test, Trace, Protect (TTP) service has been highly effective in reducing transmission of the virus. 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.
In responding to the pandemic, we have always tried to balance Covid and non-Covid harms. In light of our successful vaccine programme and the evidence the vaccine is weakening the link between infections, serious illness, hospitalisations and death from Covid-19, we have reviewed whether the current approach to self-isolation remains appropriate and proportionate.
The First Minister announced, at the last review of the coronavirus regulations, on 14 July, that we would remove the requirement for people who have been fully vaccinated – after 14 days has elapsed – to isolate if they are identified as a close contact.
This change will take effect from 7 August. I can also confirm that following discussions with stakeholders, we will remove the requirement for under 18s to self-isolate if they are identified as contacts.
Anyone who has symptoms should isolate and book a test and anyone who tests positive must continue to isolate for 10 days.
Tracers will, after 7 August, provide a ‘warn and inform’ service for fully-vaccinated individuals if they are identified as close contacts. This will include reinforcing key messages about the risk to others from Covid-19 and what can be done to minimise this risk, for example, by remaining vigilant for new symptoms, having a low threshold for seeking a test, even with mild symptoms and avoiding contact with vulnerable family and friends in the short-term – for example, elderly relatives or those who are at higher risk of severe Covid-19 infection).
We continue to recommend everyone identified as a close contact, whether they have been vaccinated or not, undertakes a PCR test on day two and day eight following their exposure to a positive case.
We have given special consideration to health and social care staff who work with vulnerable people. A risk assessment will determine whether it is appropriate for them to return to work, and if additional measures are needed, such as PCR testing and daily lateral flow tests.
The NHS Covid-19 App continues to support our TTP system and will be updated with information for users to alert them to the changes in Wales.
The Protect strand of TTP is being enhanced to continue to provide long-term support. This includes making the financial help more generous and accessible for those who need to self-isolate, providing targeted support to eliminate concerns around finance, fuel poverty and access to food.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Senedd returns I would be happy to do so.