Updated UK Health Security Agency and Government guidance on self-isolation

Classification: Official

Publication approval reference: C1527


  • ICS and STP leads
  • CCG accountable officers
  • NHS trusts and foundation trusts:
    • chief executives
    • medical directors
    • chief nursing officers
    • chief people officers/HR directors
  • All PCNs and GP practices
  • All community pharmacies
  • All NHS primary care dental contract holders
  • All primary care optometrists and dispensing opticians
  • All pathology incident directors


  • ICS and STP chairs
  • CCG chairs
  • NHS trust and foundation trust chairs
  • Local authority chief executives
  • NHS regional directors
  • NHS regional directors of commissioning

23 December 2021

Dear Colleagues,

We wrote on 16 December 2021 and are writing again to share that the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and UK Government have made changes to the guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 may now be able to end their self-isolation period after seven days (the requirement has been 10 days), following two negative lateral flow device (LFD) tests taken 24 hours apart. The first LFD test should not be taken before the sixth day.

If both these test results are negative, they may return to work after the second (day 7) negative LFD under the following conditions:

  • The staff member should not have any COVID-19 symptoms.
  • The staff member should continue to perform LFD tests every day for the remainder of the 10-day isolation period to increase the sensitivity for any residual transmission risk.
  • If any LFD test result is positive the staff member should continue to isolate and should wait 24 hours before taking the next LFD test.
  • On days the staff member is working, the LFD test should be taken at home prior to beginning their shift, as close as possible to their start time.
  • All staff must comply with all recommended infection control precautions.
  • If the staff member works with patients or residents who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19, a risk assessment should be undertaken, and consideration given to redeployment for the remainder of the 10-day isolation period.

If any of the above cannot be met, the staff member should not come to work and should follow the stay at home guidance for the full 10-day period.

Yours sincerely

Professor Em Wilkinson-Brice | NHS Deputy Chief People Officer

Ruth May | Chief Nursing Officer, England

Dr Nikita Kanani | Medical Director for Primary Care

Professor Stephen Powis | National Medical Director