The vaccines minister has said she is “not sure” how many Britons are stuck in self-isolation, amid calls to reduce the required quarantine period from seven days to five.
Maggie Throup was also unable to say how many NHS Trusts had declared critical incidents or how many young people aged 15 to 17 had been vaccinated.
Asked about how many people are in isolation amid reports that the figure has reached one million, Ms Throup told Sky News: “I’m not sure of that actual figure but I think what’s shown over Christmas is that a lot of people have caught the disease.
“The omicron variant is very transmissible, but what is very good news is it doesn’t seem to be resulting in as severe disease as other variants did.”
Asked “perhaps you just don’t know?” when she did not answer a question about how many hospitals had declared incidents, Ms Throup admitted: “To be honest, I haven’t had an update this morning.”
Robert Halfon, the Tory chairman of the education select committee, last night called on ministers to “seriously consider” cutting the isolation period for healthy children who test positive, while Tim Spector, the British epidemiologist behind the ZOE Covid study app, criticised “over-cautious isolating rules” and added: “Let’s reduce this to five days.”
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