Any person who tests positive for the coronavirus or COVID-19 or show symptoms will need to self-isolate for 10 days instead of the previous seven, based on a low but tangible chance that the people might remain infectious for longer.

"In symptomatic people, COVID-19 is most infectious just before, and for the first few days after symptoms begin," the UK chief medical officers said in a statement on Thursday.

COVID-19 in UK

Coronavirus

"Evidence, although still limited, has strengthened and shows that people with COVID-19 who are mildly ill and are recovering have a low but real possibility of infectiousness between 7 and 9 days after illness onset." The government said the change in the rule would come into force immediately.

The deadly virus outbreak has infected more than 17 million people worldwide and claimed the lives of over 667,000 people globally in more than 170 countries and is currently spreading like wildfire.

(With agency inputs)