The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it would not reduce its two-week recommendations for self-isolation after several European nations slashed the amount of time individuals are required to quarantine for. In the UK anyone who has come into contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 must cut themselves off from the outside world for 10 days.
The WHO’s senior emergency officer for Europe, Catherine Smallwood, said science has shown people need to hide away for a fortnight to be certain they do not have the virus.
She said: “Our quarantine recommendation of 14 days has been based on our understanding of the incubation period and transmission of the disease.
“We would only revise that on the basis of a change of our understanding of the science.”
People in France who have had contact with a person suffering from coronavirus are required to self-isolate for seven days.
The WHO’S European director Dr Hans Kluge warned of a “very serious” situation as case rates skyrocket in several parts of the continent.
He said more than half of European countries had recorded a rise in cases greater than 10 percent over the past two weeks.
He warned “even a slight reduction in the length of the quarantine” would be a step in the wrong direction.
Dr Kluge said: “Knowing the immense individual and societal impact even a slight reduction in the length of quarantine can have.
“I encourage countries of the region to make scientific due process with their experts and explore safe reduction options.”
“The September case numbers, however, should serve as a wake-up call for all of us.”
On Thursday the French health minister, Olivier Veran, said the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care was increasing at a worrying rate.
He said five in 100 people tested for the disease get back a positive result.
He said this compared to just one in 100 at the beginning of the summer.
Mr Veran said gatherings of family and friends were a major source of coronavirus contaminations in France.
The UK is grappling with its own surge in cases.
The head of the test and trace system in England has said Britain will need more than the current target of 500,000 daily tests after October.
Boris Johnson on Wednesday said his Government was working hard to increase testing capacity to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, saying he aimed to be able to do 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.
But earlier today Dido Harding, interim chair of the new National Institute for Health Protection, told MPs: “I am certain that we will need more as we go beyond the end of October.
“We have plans to go beyond the 500,000 a day target.”
The UK recorded 3,395 further infections on Thursday, bringing the overall total to 381,614.
And a further 21 deaths were recorded, taking the total tally to 41,705.