Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus could automatically be given £500 as part of plans ministers are reviewing to encourage people to comply with quarantine regulations in England.

The proposal is said to be the “preferred position” of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), according to a leaked sensitive document.

The plans are currently under review, a Cabinet minister confirmed this morning.

The Guardian reports that the plans have been prompted by a government poll, which indicated that only 17per cent of people with symptoms are coming forward for testing, while just one-in-four comply with rules to self-isolate for 10 days after testing positive and 15 per cent continue to go to work as normal.

The £500 handout scheme would cost up to £453 million per week – 12 times the cost of the current system.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson refused to rule out the lockdown lasting until the summer, while home secretary Priti Patel said it was “far too early” to speculate on whether restrictions would be lifted in time to allow Brits a foreign holiday during the warmer months.

Northern Ireland has confirmed its coronavirus lockdown is to be extended for a further four weeks to March 5.

The government’s caution in announcing a timetable to ease the lockdown has sparked fears in the hospitality industry that ministers could be preparing to tell pubs and restaurants to keep their doors closed until May, despite the government aiming to have vaccinated all the most vulnerable by next month.

Ms Patel has also announced a new £800 fine for people who attend house parties with more than 15 people.

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Only 18 per cent of people with symptoms self-isolating for full 10 days, scientist suggests

Only 18 per cent of people with symptoms are self-isolating for the full 10 days as instructed, a government adviser has suggested.

Professor Susan Michie, of the Scientific Pandemic Insights Group on Behaviours, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

“There will be people, for example single earners in a household looking after a family where £500 over 10 days, £50 a day, is not enough to pay the rent, to pay all the bills and put food on the table.

“There is a particular group of people who would need more from that £500 but at least the Government is recognising this is a key weakness in the whole pandemic strategy.

“If you have 82 per cent of people with symptoms wandering around the community it is very very difficult to bring this level down.”

Quarantine hotels considered last week

Asked about the idea of quarantine hotels, Environment Secretary George Eustice told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

“We have considered these matters last week and the judgement was, that for now, the right thing to do is to require pre-travel testing.”

PM to hold Downing Street press conference

Prime minister Boris Johnson will hold a Downing Street press briefing at 5pm this afternoon.

Government 'has considered' full border closure amid concerns over mutant strains

Asked about a full closure of UK borders on Sky News, Mr Eustice said it has been considered.

“There is concern at the moment about the number of mutant strains there are,” he said.

Ministers considering 'all sorts of policies'

The government is considering “all sorts” of policies to try and help people stick to Covid-19 and self-isolation rules, environment secretary George Eustice has said.

After reports that £500 could be offered to help people who have to self-isolate, he told BBC Breakfast:

“We always had the £500 support payment for those that are on certain benefits.

“We have always kept this under review and we know that it is sometimes quite challenging to ask people to isolate for that length of time.

“At the moment we are in a full lockdown anyway so while people can leave to work, in many cases people will be staying home anyway.

“We constantly keep this under review. We have got to consider all sorts of policies.”

Coronavirus infection rates fall in every borough of Greater Manchester

Coronavirus infection rates have fallen in every borough of Greater Manchester.

The latest Public Health England figures show a decline in the spread of the virus in the seven days ending January 17.

The overall rate for Greater Manchester is 376.1 per 100,000. It is 12 per cent lower than the previous seven days and still below the national average.

Oldham - formerly one of the worst-hit areas by Covid - now has the lowest infection rate in the region.

The town’s rate has fallen again by 21 per cent to 291.4 per 100,000.

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Support for people isolating 'actually pretty important' in getting R number down

Dr Tildesley said he supported payments to people self-isolating.

He told Times Radio:

“One of the key things actually that we need to think about is not necessarily just ramping up the rules if things don’t seem to be working but actually looking at making the rules better that we have in place, and one of the key problems actually is people isolating.

“Some kind of support for people so they can see through their isolation is actually pretty important, so that we really do get on top of these numbers.”

He said it was “pretty unclear how we can tighten restrictions further” but he said there were signs the “lockdown is possibly working in terms of taking the R number below 1.

“The key thing there actually is we don’t just want to take the number below 1 we need to take it quite a bit below 1 because of course the further below 1 we go the faster those curves are going to come down and the sooner, hopefully, we’re going to ease out of restrictions,” he added.

'We need to be extremely careful with with easing out of lockdown,' scientist urges

Dr Mike Tildesley, a member of Sage subgroup the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said the government would need to release coronavirus restrictions gradually.

He told Times Radio:

“We need to be extremely careful with with easing out of lockdown.

“We could look back at May, June and say, you know we very much flipped from everyone needs to stay at home to ‘let’s go and all go to the pub and eat out to help out’ – and we got this resurgence over the summer.

“I think this time we need to be extremely careful. The vaccine will help us eventually and hopefully by February, early March we will start to see signs of that but it’s going take an awfully long time before we get the levels of immunity across the population that we’re going to be able to fully release things.

“A gradual release is really what we need because if we release things too rapidly, we will start to see a resurgence, we will start to see cases climbing and we’ll unfortunately have to have more restrictions introduced.”

He suggested the government should not over-promise, instead saying, “for instance ‘we expect these restrictions to be in place until the end of March, if we manage to get cases down rapidly then we will lift those restrictions earlier’.”

Quarantine payment plans 'under review' - minister

A Cabinet minister said that the £500 payment for people quarantining after testing positive for coronavirus is under review.

Environment secretary George Eustice told Sky News:

“We have always kept it under review.

“We do need people, if they are asked to self-isolate because they have been contacted through our Test and Trace, we do need them to self-isolate.

“And, obviously, we always review the reasons why they might not.”

On the suggested payment, Mr Eustice added:

“No decisions have been made on this.

“But, this is a dynamic, fast-moving situation with the pandemic.

“We are always keeping multiple policies under review.

“We have had a targeted £500 payment already for those who are on benefits to help them with the costs of staying at home when they are unable to work.”

£500 hand out scheme 'one of many options' being looked at

Everyone in England who tests positive for Covid-19 could automatically be given £500 as part of plans ministers are reportedly considering to boost quarantine compliance.

The £500 handout scheme would cost up to £453 million per week – 12 times the cost of the current system.

The Resolution Foundation, a think tank which has previously calculated that only one in eight workers qualify for the financial support currently offered to those told to self-isolate, welcomed the proposal.

Researcher Maja Gustafsson said:

“The current approach is not fit for purpose with statutory sick pay among the least generous of advanced economies and far too few people eligible for the £500 support payments.

“Swiftly putting in place a much more universal and generous system will make a real difference to controlling the spread of the virus.”

The Department of Health said it would not comment on a leaked paper but did not deny that blanket self-isolation payouts had been mooted.

A Government source suggested it was just one of many options being discussed as part of improving stay-at-home compliance for those who had tested positive.