Test and trace FAQ

Test and trace across the United Kingdom

Test and trace is in place in all 4 UK countries and varies slightly in each.

People who have symptoms of the disease will be asked to be tested for Covid-19 and, if they test positive, they will be asked to supply details of anyone they could have passed it on to. Those people will then be contacted by the team of tracers and asked to self-isolate for 10 days.

Do I have to self-isolate following a Covid contact?

Where contact is with a patient in a clinical setting and appropriate PPE has been used this will not normally be considered a Covid contact and physiotherapists, physio support workers and physio students on placements will not normally be required to self-isolate.

Where you are notified of a contact in any other context, whether directly by track and trace services or an app, you will usually have to self-isolate. There is not a UK-wide approach to exemptions for health and care staff. You will need to follow the guidance and rules for your country or crown dependency.

Wales 

The Welsh government has confirmed that it will not allow exemptions at this time.


England 

From 9 January

  • Eligible fully vaccinated travellers and over 5s will be able to take a lateral flow test instead of a PCR on or before day 2 of their arrival in England. Lateral flow tests for travel can be booked from Friday 7 January and taken upon arrival, by the end of day 2.
  •  Eligible fully vaccinated passengers and under 18s will no longer need to take a pre-departure test or self-isolate on arrival in England from 4am on Friday 7 January but must continue to take their post-arrival tests.
  • Anyone who receives a positive result on their lateral flow test must self-isolate immediately and order a NHS PCR test from GOV.UK. Positive PCR tests for arrivals will be sequenced to understand if and where variants are emerging around the globe in order to protect the UK public. Find out more.

From 11 January 

  • People who receive positive lateral flow device (LFD) test results for coronavirus (COVID-19) will be required to self-isolate immediately and won’t be required to take a confirmatory PCR test.
  • Lateral flow tests are taken by people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone who develops 1 of the 3 main COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate and take a PCR test. They must self-isolate if they get a positive test result, even if they have had a recent negative lateral flow test – these rules have not changed. Read the announcement.

From Monday 17 January - Self isolation for NHS staff

  • Following on from the UK Health Security Agency announcement of changes to the self-isolation guidance for those who have received a positive COVID-19 test result, NHS staff who test positive will be able to leave self-isolation and return to work, if they test negative on days 5 and 6 after the date of their initial positive test, 24 hours apart, and providing they are medically fit, from Monday, 17 January.
  •  This means if a staff member tests negative on the morning of day 6 and was negative 24 hours earlier, they can return to work on day 6.
  • To mitigate any potential increased risk of transmission, NHS England and NHS Improvement require that all NHS staff then continue to test daily to day 10 after their initial positive test and stop at day 10 unless they remain or test positive.
  •  For those that continue to test positive, if at day ten they still test positive they must continue to isolate and continue to daily lateral flow device (LFD) test until a negative result or until day 14*. If still positive at that point it is considered unlikely that you are infectious so you can return to work providing you are medically fit.

There is no change to testing of staff who are contacts of someone confirmed COVID-19 positive; you must:

  •  stay at home and self-isolate if not fully vaccinated
  • if fully vaccinated (ie have received two vaccine doses and at least 14 days have passed since the second vaccination) arrange a PCR test and can return to work if it is confirmed negative (if positive, isolate as above). If negative, the person should complete daily lateral flow tests before attending work each day for 10 days and immediately isolate in the event of a positive LFD or similar.
  • For non-NHS staff please read the NHS Test and Trace guidance for information.

From Thursday 27 January England will fully return to Plan A:

  • venues and events will no longer be required by law to use the NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis as was previously the case in Plan A
  • face coverings are no longer required by law in any setting. Public health guidance will remain in place, suggesting individuals should continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet
  • the Department for Education will remove national guidance on the use of face coverings in communal areas, with local directors of public health able to recommend the use of face coverings in education settings across their area only where the department and public health experts judge the measure to be proportionate due to specific health concerns. This is a temporary measure and directors of public health continue to advise individual settings experiencing outbreaks

The infection prevention and control IPC guidance recommends the following  Covid 19 protection measures within health and care settings:

  • for universal use of face masks for staff and face masks/coverings for all patients/visitors to remain as an IPC measure within health and care settings over the winter period. This is likely to be until at least March/April 2022.
  • that physical distancing should be at least 1 metre, increasing whenever feasible to 2 metres across all health and care settings.
  • that physical distancing should remain at 2 metres where patients with suspected or confirmed respiratory infection are being cared for or managed
  • In response to Omicron and other variants of concern (VOCs) it is recommended that staff and organisations continue to undertake risk assessments using the hierarchy of controls which include an evaluation of the ventilation in the area, operational capacity, physical distancing and prevalence of COVID-19. 
  • The inpatient isolation period for COVID-19 cases or contacts is reduced from 14 days to 10 days. There are some exceptions to reducing the isolation period and this should be considered as part of a clinical risk assessment.

Northern Ireland 

Members working for HSC should contact their managers for advice. The CSP understands that trusts may permit exemptions to HSC staff where:

  • the circumstances are 'exceptional'
  • there is a need to help alleviate pressure on health and social care services
  • the individual is double vaccinated and has had a 14-day clear period following vaccination
  • the individual has had a negative PCR test
  • the individual has daily negative lateral flow tests
  • suitable precautions are in place
  • a relevant manager has undertaken a risk assessment.

We are not aware of any exemption for non-HSC practitioners.


Scotland

Only people without symptoms may be eligible for exemption from self-isolation. To return to work in a health and social care setting, there are additional clinical safeguards in place.


Guernsey

While fully vaccinated islanders do not usually have to self-isolate, if you work with vulnerable people you may be required to self-isolate.

Whether you have to self-isolate following a contact with a Covid-positive person will be determined by Public Health Services. They can be contacted on 01481 225241.


Jersey

Self-isolation of Jersey residents applies where someone notified of a contact has Covid symptoms but has not had a negative PCR test.

However local public health advice advises against attending hospital, GP practices and care homes if you have been in contact with a Covid-positive person but have no symptoms.


Isle of Man

Anyone who has received the both vaccines followed by 14 clear days since the second injection does not have to self-isolate where they have been identified as a high-risk contact of a positive case.

What if a patient I was due to see is double vaccinated but lives with a family member who is a positive case?

The rules now mean that the person does not have to self- isolate and may attend for a physiotherapy session. However, we advise members to continue to use the IPC's Covid screening tool to ensure you minimise the risk to your staff, your patients, yourself and in some instances, your business.

Consent for test and trace

You cannot share personal details unless:

  1. you have the patient's consent OR
  2. there is a lawful reason for you to do so 

Covid-19 is a serious communicable disease, which must be reported to Public Health authorities for disease management purposes, therefore if patients do not give their consent you may be required to report the information anyway. However, forewarning patients that you may be required to report information in the event of being asked to activate contact tracing is a good idea and can be discussed during the consent process.

The Information Commissioner's Office provides more detail on the Data management requirements relating to test and trace.

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