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People in England will no longer be required to self-isolate after testing positive for coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce.
There's been a total of 18.6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the UK, with more than 161,000 deaths. More than 34,000 cases were reported yesterday, along with 128 deaths. While still substantial numbers, deaths and hospitalisations are falling, mostly due to Omicron being a milder variant of the virus.
Tomorrow, February 21, Johnson is set to announce the decision to scrap the vast majority of remaining COVID restrictions and provisions, including self-isolating after testing positive and possibly the availability of free lateral and PCR tests for everyone.
It's all part of the PM's 'living with COVID' plan, with Johnson believing the current vaccine programme, testing, a smattering of other treatments like anti-viral drugs and people's common sense to stay home when they're ill will be enough to keep the public safe, and hopefully lower the likelihood of another national lockdown down the line.
'COVID will not suddenly disappear, and we need to learn to live with this virus and continue to protect ourselves without restricting our freedom,' Johnson said ahead of the announcement, as per The Independent.
'We’ve built up strong protections against this virus over the past two years through the vaccine rollouts, tests, new treatments and the best scientific understanding of what this virus can do. Thanks to our successful vaccination programme and the sheer magnitude of people who have come forward to be jabbed, we are now in a position to set out our plan for living with COVID this week.'
When asked if this would mean people with COVID could still go to work, the PM's official spokesman said, 'There would be guidance, that would not be what we are recommending.'
Thursday, February 24, is being earmarked as 'Freedom Day' from self-isolation and other restrictions, while passenger locator forms for those travelling abroad will remain in place until later in the spring.
While the move will be heralded by those fed up of restrictions, Labour has accused Johnson of 'declaring victory before the war is over, in an attempt to distract from the police knocking at his door', in reference to the Partygate scandal in Downing Street.
'Labour doesn't want to see restrictions in place any longer than they need to be. The government should publish the evidence behind this decision, so the public can have faith that it is being made in the national interest. Now is not the time to start charging for tests or weaken sick pay, when people are still being asked to behave responsibly,' Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said.
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