Anyone keeping up to date with the news will not have missed the fact that the new 'Test and Trace' system started in England yesterday (the app is not yet ready to be released in the UK). This requires people who have coronavirus symptoms to take a test. If the test is positive for coronavirus, people are required to share with the NHS details of people with whom they have had close, recent contact and places they have visited.  

Those people, in turn, will be alerted by the NHS test and trace service and informed that they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will usually come by text, email or phone call. They will be told to begin self-isolation for 14 days from the last contact with the person who has tested positive, even if they don’t feel unwell. Their household doesn’t need to self-isolate in the absence of any symptoms, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and hand washing, and avoid contact with the isolated person at home.

If anyone is symptomatic, they now have access to a test if needed. The guidance states “if you develop symptoms of coronavirus, other members of your household must self-isolate immediately at home for 14 days and you must book a test at or call 119 if you have no internet access. If your test is positive, you must continue to stay at home for at least 7 days and we will get in touch to ask about your contacts since they must self-isolate. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 14-day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet - this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.”

Entitlement to statutory sick pay has been extended to cover this scheme, under The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, to people who have been told to isolate.


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