HALF of people with coronavirus symptoms are fuelling the epidemic by ignoring rules to stay at home.
Government advisers claim people displaying any signs should isolate for seven days.
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But monitoring by the Department of Health and Social Care found millions of Brits may have failed to fully comply with the instructions.
The revelation, from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, raises concerns over how future outbreaks can be prevented.
Youngsters have been breaking social distancing rules to pack a riverbank in Ilkley, West Yorks. Hundreds of sunseekers, including families with small children, rushed to the River Wharfe.
Jostling teenagers jumped from a bridge into shallow waters. Some inhaled from balloons or boozed.
One local said: “When there is another virus spike, it will be people like this to blame.”
It comes days before the lockdown is eased, with some people being asked to isolate for 14 days even if they do not have symptoms.
Under the NHS test and trace programme, people in England will be told to quarantine for two weeks if they come into contact with someone who has tested positive.
But a SAGE paper “strongly recommends research into adherence rates”. It added that, based on DHSC data, “only 50 per cent of people are currently reporting self-isolating for at least seven days” if symptoms appear.
The easing comes in on Monday, a move that will be monitored closely by Environment Secretary George Eustice.
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Scientists warn relaxing restrictions too far is “highly likely” to result in a second peak. They say 80 per cent of a patient’s contacts must be traced in 48 hours for ‘test and trace’ to work.
SAGE said the NHS tracing app could make the system more effective but they “anticipate major behavioural barriers” to its use.
It warned people may be less willing to comply if they are asked repeatedly to isolate.
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