Covid-19 cases are back at high levels as experts warn the country has entered its ‘fifth wave’ of infections following the emergence of new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5.
While the infection rate remains a concern, hospitalizations now appear to be declining from their July 18 peak of 14,044, giving cause for cautious optimism.
But despite the recent alarming resurgence of cases, the UK government has not imposed any new restrictions or reinstated free lateral flow testing or mandatory face masks in public spaces.
The last remaining restrictions were lifted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the end of February after the first Omicron wave subsided, meaning all guidelines and advice on self-isolation were removed, shifting responsibility away from the state and onto individuals.
So with no legal obligation to isolate Covid patients, many are confused as to what to do when they see the faint red line on a lateral flow test.
Here’s everything you need to know if you’ve tested positive for Covid.
What to do
If a lateral flow test shows you’ve contracted the virus, you risk passing it on to others for up to 10 days into your infection, according to the NHS.
Legally, you don’t have to stay at home or avoid contact with people if you test positive for Covid, a state of affairs in line with the government’s revised Living with Covid strategy.
But the Government advises the public to follow the NHS guidelines, which are a list of recommendations but not a set of binding rules.
What does the NHS say?
Children and people under the age of 18 who test positive should avoid contact with other people for three days from the day after the test.
This is how you protect the people in your home from being infected with the virus
The NHS offers advice on how to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to people in your household.