REMOVING the coronavirus self-isolation rules now would be a “step too far” and would risk undoing progress in tackling the virus, a public health expert has said.

Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, urged a slow and cautious move out of the existing restrictions.

The requirement to self-isolate is expected to be lifted in England by the end of February, following an announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

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England’s current self-isolation rules expire on March 24 but Johnson said he hopes to bring them to an end a month ahead of that.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been taking a more cautious approach in Scotland.

The rules remain in place in Scotland and Sturgeon has said she will publish a new strategic framework for dealing with Covid-19 on February 22.

Evans told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme that trends in the virus were still “fairly stable”.

The National: Jillian EvansJillian Evans

She said: “Advice from the scientific community and the WHO is when you’re coming out of a peak or a spike, you do so slowly and you do so cautiously.

“I would argue at this point in time, certainly the potential of removal of self-isolation would be a step too far.”

She continued: “The worst thing that could happen is that we remove things too quickly and we end up undoing a lot of the good that we’ve done and worked so hard for.”

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Evans encouraged people to continue wearing face coverings indoors and in crowded spaces.

She said: “Most importantly, if you are unwell, stay at home.

“If you have an infectious illness, stay at home – and that includes flu and other things.

“Try not to be so caught up by some of the hope and optimism that we have that this is all over, because it certainly isn’t yet. Not yet.”

Earlier this week, addressing the same subject, Evans cautioned: "Any rise in infections – which are still three times higher than they were a few months ago – displaces other healthcare activities, and that has consequences for patients awaiting other treatments.

"You absolutely have to be open to emerging evidence, but hard and fast deadlines ahead of schedule – treating the virus like it's a capital project where you come in under budget and ahead of time – it's not like that.

"What will happen with waning vaccine protection, and waning immunity, which will inevitably occur as we go through the summer months?

"What will happen will high levels of virus circulating in our country and abroad, and the potential for new and more worrisome variants? We are perpetually living with uncertainty."