Education Secretary Gavin Williamson praised students, parents and all workers who have been making sacrifices while schools have been closed due to coronavirus. Mr Williamson held a briefing on Wednesday evening at No10 with Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries. Dr Harries was asked by LBC journalist Ben Kentish whether the infectiousness of the Kent variant was a cause for concern going forward.

Mr Kentish said: “There is some evidence that the Kent variant infects people for longer than the original strain.

“One study found it was 13 days for the Kent variant while it was eight for the original Covid strain.

“They say, the authors of the study, that means the 10 day quarantine period needs to be lengthened.

“Is that something you are looking at and if that did happen, is it your view that more would need to be done to support people financially to quarantine when people need to do so?”

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Dr Harries said the UK Government was looking at and monitoring variants of concern, including the Kent variant. 

She said: “We look at the different variants regularly and we have variants of interest and concern.

“Those are being monitored, you will be aware that the UK probably has the best genomics functionality in the world.

“We are contributing to world science on that so it is absolutely watched all the time.”

Dr Harries also explored why different studies would produce a different length of quarantine time.

However, she did note the Government was still looking into the current arrangements regarding quarantine.

She said: “Different studies will come out with slightly different periods.

“What you will have seen with the original coronavirus in the UK is that we managed the length of time for quarantine to minimise the inconvenience to the individual but still reduce the risk of onward infection.

“So yes, we are looking at this but I think we need to be really careful because just with the original coronavirus, the time at which you detect the virus doesn’t mean necessarily that this is the infectious period.”

“At the moment we are vaccinating really brilliantly so we have quite a different mix of transmission risks at the moment.

“We are starting to see early signs that those that are most vulnerable will have less chance of serious disease and we will have to adapt to that as we go through.

“But every variant will be looked at if it is a significant transmission risk across the UK.”



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