FILE PHOTO: A council worker sprays a social distancing marker on the ground in Oldham amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Britain July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble/File Photo

Government will pay low-income residents to self-isolate if they have confirmed or suspected coronavirus as measures have been stepped up to keep the virus under control.

The new policy comes after opposition politicians called on the government to introduce the payments amid concerns that some people who cannot not afford to take time off work were avoiding complying with the health advice.

The government said individuals who test positive for the virus will receive 130 pounds for their 10-day period of self-isolation. Other members of their household, who have to self-isolate for 14 days, will be entitled to 182 pounds.

The money will be available to people on welfare payments known as Universal Credit or Working Tax Credits, and who are unable to work from home. The scheme will be trialed first in Blackburn, Pendle and Oldham, which had experienced local lockdowns because of their higher rates of the virus.

“The British public have already sacrificed a great deal to help slow the spread of the virus. Self-isolating if you have tested positive for Covid-19, or have come into contact with someone who has, remains vital to keeping on top of local outbreaks,” said Matt Hancock, the health secretary.

“This new payment scheme will help people on low incomes and who are unable to work from home to continue playing their part in the national fight against this virus.”

The United Kingdom has suffered more than 65,000 excess deaths from coronavirus, according to the Office for National Statistics, with a surge that lasted longer and spread to more places than those in other hard-hit European nations like Italy and Spain.

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