90% of people followed self-isolation rules, new data shows

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Nine out of 10 people required to self-isolate after being in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus said they fully adhered to the rules, new figures have shown.

Experimental data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), published on Monday, found 90% of respondents reported being fully adherent to self-isolation requirements throughout their 10-day self-isolation period.

But of the respondents who did not follow self-isolation requirements, 78% reported they left the house for non-permitted reasons during their 10-day self-isolation period, the ONS said.

Of those who left their homes, 27% said they had gone to the shops for groceries, toiletries, medicine or other items, while 13% went out for outdoor recreation or exercise.

The data, collected between April 1 and 10, also found 6% of all respondents had contact with people outside their household during their isolation period, with 57% allowing visitors into their home and 55% having contact somewhere outdoors.

In the first 24 hours after receiving a notification to start self-isolating, 96% of respondents had no contact with non-household members, while 91% had no contact with people outside their household from after the first 24 hours to the end of their self-isolation period.

Tim Gibbs, of the ONS public services analysis team, said: “It’s reassuring to see that a high percentage of survey respondents are self-isolating after being in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

“Although being in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 doesn’t necessarily mean you will test positive, our data shows that people are aware of the risks of spreading the virus, even if they are asymptomatic.

“Adhering to self-isolation rules is key in reducing the transmission of Covid-19, even after vaccination.”

The Government made it a legal duty in September for people in England to self-isolate if they tested positive or were contacted by NHS Test and Trace.

Around a third (30%) of respondents developed symptoms of the coronavirus, the ONS said.

Of those who developed symptoms at any point, 93% were fully adherent to self-isolation rules throughout the period.

Similarly, of those who tested positive for Covid-19, 91% fully adhered to requirements throughout their self-isolation.

The survey also found that about a third (32%) of people said that self-isolation had a negative effect on their wellbeing and mental health, and 27% reported having lost income because of self-isolation.

But the ONS said the deprivation level of a respondent’s home address had “no significant impact” on their understanding of self-isolation guidance, full adherence to the guidance and having no contact with non-household members.

This follows a comparison between respondents of the survey – taken between April 1 and April 10 – and those living in deprived areas who were surveyed between March 15 and March 20, the ONS said.

The data was collected from 1,100 people who had been identified as a contact of someone who had tested positive for Covid-19 at the point when they had recently reached the end of their self-isolation period.

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