People who test positive for Covid-19 could soon have to self-isolate by up to two weeks – doubling the current requirement.
Government insiders claim the move is set to be announced in an effort to stop a new spike of infections.
It comes as increases in new cases spark alarm, with Oldham overtaking Leicester as the second worst coronavirus hotspot in England, behind Blackburn with Darwen.
According to the Daily Mail, patients will have to self isolate for 10 days after testing positive for the killer virus.
At the moment that figure is seven days, but many scientists fear people could still be contagious after the isolation period ends.
It would bring the rules in line with quarantine regulations for those returning from countries such as Spain, with new measures brought in over the weekend to prevent the virus spreading.
Boris Johnson is reportedly worried about a second spike of the virus, with the official death toll now standing at 45,961.
But the true figure is likely to be far higher.
This week the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said a decline in new cases “has now levelled off”.
Figures show number of cases per 100,000 of the population
- Blackburn with Darwen: 85.9
- Oldham: 54.3
- Leicester: 53.2
- Bradford: 45.1
- Trafford: 36.8
- Rochdale: 32.7
- Sandwell: 30.9
- Calderdale: 28.6
- Manchester: 22.1
- Kirklees: 19.8
In the week up to July 19, around one in 2,000 people were estimated to have coronavirus in the community in England.
But the previous week’s bulletin put the figure one in 2,300.
There were an estimated 2,800 new cases per day, compared with 1,700 the previous week.
Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that the combination of a spike of cases with “exhausted staff” while the NHS tries to rebuild services could prove “challenging”.
He told the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Coronavirus: “I would say in relation to the second spike issue or something coming, the levels of concern among our members – the people who are leading NHS trusts, who are leading in primary care and all levels in the systems – is very high.
“There’s real concern about winter and the compounding factors there, but also about an earlier spike.”
He said non-Covid-19 productivity in NHS trusts was currently at about 60%.
Meanwhile, he called for an “Amazon-style” way for the health and care system to order personal protective equipment (PPE) – whereby they can order it and have it arrive the next day.
New data shows there are 54.3 cases per 100,000 people in Oldham – slightly higher than Leicester’s 53.2.
Blackburn with Darwen, in Lancashire, remains the worst-affected area, with 85.9 cases per 100,000 people.
Manchester, Trafford, Bradford and Rochdale are also among the places where the infection rate is high, data from Public Health England shows.
An estimated 235,000 residents in Oldham have been told not to allow visitors into their homes, and stay two metres apart while outdoors.