United Kingdom

Fewer Britons are sticking to 10-day self-isolation following a positive test result, survey finds

Fewer Covid-infected Britons are sticking to the 10-day self-isolation rules than two months ago, an official survey suggests.

The Office for National Statistics found 82 per cent of those questioned who tested positive said they followed the mandatory quarantine in the six days to March 13. 

For comparison, the figure in early February was 86 per cent.

Experts stressed, however, the results were likely an 'overestimate' because they were at odds with other studies, including one paper that claimed fewer than one in five Britons was properly self-isolating. 

On the other hand, Test & Trace's Dido Harding has said in the past that the numbers are an underestimate because they are a yes/no question – people who obeyed all the rules for nine days but had to go to a shop once, for example, would fail.

Britain was under its third lockdown in early February, with citizens required to stay home except for to shop for essentials and attend crucial jobs across all four nations.

But by March 13, England had reopened schools for all pupils, while Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were allowing primary school children back to the classroom.

Office for National Statistics found 82 per cent were self-isolating for ten days in early March. For comparison, in February they suggested it was 86 per cent. Experts stressed, however, the results were likely an overestimate

ONS survey found going to the shops, visiting work, school or university or a medical appointment were the most likely reasons for not following the mandatory quarantine

They found 14 per cent of those who isolated were not paid by their employer for the period

Professor Robert West, a behavioural scientist at University College London, warned there was a 'high risk' these results were an overestimate.

'First, the rate of reported self-isolation is much higher than that found in repeated surveys using a different sampling method,' he said.

'Secondly, the data rely on self-reporting in circumstances where the pressure to report having self-isolated is very high.


A prominent Norwegian coronavirus denier has died from Covid-19 after hosting two events at his property.

Hans Kristian Gaarder tested positive for the virus after dying on April 6 in Gran, a municipality that lies some 40 miles north of Oslo.

Just days before his death, the conspiracy theorist, 60, hosted two illegal gatherings at a barn on his property on March 26 and 27.

Several attendees have since tested positive for coronavirus and had passed the virus onto their close contacts, NRK reported.

Local newspaper Hadeland reported that at least 12 people had tested positive after attending the events. Police are now working to establish the total number of attendees.

Local officials believe Gaarder may have been ill for several weeks without informing anyone, newsinenglish.no reported.

The Gran Municipality confirmed the death of a man in his 60s on its website.

'A man in his 60s, living in Gran, has died after being ill with coronavirus. The person was not tested for coronavirus before he died, but it is confirmed afterward that he was infected with the virus.

'Gran municipality has become aware that two events were held, Friday 26 and Saturday 27 March, on the man's property. We do not know how many and who have participated in the event, but ask the participants to take a corona test as soon as possible.'

'Thirdly, this is a sample of people who have chosen to get tested, and responded to the survey and are, therefore, likely to be much more compliant than the average person.'

Professor James Rubin, a psychologist at King's College London, argued the results were 'good news', saying the 'high levels of adherence were encouraging'.

But he warned they should be taken with a pinch of salt because less than half of the people the ONS rung to ask to complete the survey actually responded. 

'We need to ask ourselves whether there's systematic bias at play,' he said.

'Perhaps people who don't adhere to self-isolation also tend to not respond to surveys asking about adherence?'

The ONS survey relied on 1,122 people for its results, with respondents self-reporting whether they had followed isolation rules without providing any evidence.

Statisticians claimed their low response rate (45%) was down to the target population being unwell and, therefore, less able to take part.

They found shopping for groceries, toiletries or medicines (32%) and going to work, school or university (31%) were the most common reasons for not staying at home out of those who failed to stick to the requirements in the latest survey.

This was similar to the previous survey which found shopping for groceries, toiletries and medicine (27%), going to work, school or university (22%) and visiting the doctors (17%) were the most likely reasons. 

A third of those who self-isolated said it had a bad impact on their well-being and mental health during the period in March.

And 14 per cent reported not being paid by their employer for following the rules.

Moreover, three in ten respondents said they were not sure they understood the self-isolation rules.

The ONS study did not include people who had been asked to self-isolate despite not getting a positive test, such as those returning to the UK from abroad or who had recently been in contact with someone who was infected with the virus. 

Previous studies have suggested adherence to the self-isolation rules is very low despite ministers making them a legal requirement.

A King's College London paper from September found just one in five Britons who had tell-tale Covid symptoms self-isolated. They quizzed 30,000 in the research.

And a British Medical Journal study based on 26,000 participants published last month found less than half of respondents (42 per cent) stayed home for the full ten-day quarantine period.

Experts have suggested many are not self-isolating because of insufficient income support and concerns over struggles with mental health.

They add many housing options - such as small flats in city centres - make the requirement impractical.

Ministers cut the self-isolation period from two weeks to 10 days in December, amid warnings the period was too long and many people were not following the order.

Medical officers said there was sufficient evidence that people weren't infectious after this time period. 

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