A TOP doc has claimed all Brits should self isolate even if they only have a COLD in a move that would cripple the economy and wreak havoc on the NHS.
Sir Frank Atherton – chief medical officer for Wales – has insisted anyone with a runny nose should keep themselves locked away for "a few days".
The move would spark chaos for the already understaffed NHS – as worst estimates claim up to a quarter of public sector workers could be self-isolating because Omicron is so easy to catch.
That’s more than a million frontline staff stuck at home for seven days or more as hospitalisations rise.
Ministers are now facing calls to follow America's lead and reduce isolation to five days to free up shut-in Brits.
A potential reduction in isolation days comes after it was discovered that the Omicron variant – which is now responsible for 90 per cent of cases in the UK – is milder, with most people suffering cold-like symptoms.
A string of hugely positive studies show Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
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Sir Frank, Chris Whitty's counterpart in Wales, told Times Radio that Brits should self isolate if they have "a cold, or symptoms of a cold, runny nose or cough or are sneezing" so they don't pass the virus on.
"Looking beyond the current wave, even, we need to think about how we behave as a society when we have any of these infections," he added.
"Whether it's flu or the common cold, or coronavirus, we probably need to move to a position where anybody who has a viral infection of that nature selfisolates, whether they're an adult or a child, for a few days, just to stop it transmitting."
He said this applies to "anybody who has a cold, or symptoms of a cold, runny nose or cough, sneezing".
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Sir Frank added: "Is it really appropriate for you to go on a train or a plane or a bus? Stay home, get better."
Experts have cautioned that continuing with the current isolation plans will mean that the NHS is understaffed.
Professor Alison Leary, chair of health care and workforce modelling at London Southbank University said as much as 40 per cent of the workforce could be absent in the coming weeks.
Professor Sir John Bell last week said that the biggest threat to the NHS is currently the impact isolation is having on staffing levels.
He said: "The stress on the health service at the moment, particularly in London, is the effect of the loss of staff because they're quarantining because they've been in contact [with someone testing positive.
"So I think there will be a workforce issue emerging from that quite soon."
Covid cases rose by 137,583 in England and Wales yesterday as Omicron continues to spread.
A further 73 people died from the virus – but only 789 of patients in hospital with Covid are on ventilators, data revealed.
On Saturday, Covid infections reached a record high for the fifth day in a row with 162,572 cases recorded in England alone.
But this figure seems to have dipped on Sunday.
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