The isolation period for Covid-19 cases and their household contacts will be reduced from 10 to seven days, as 22,454 new community cases of Covid-19 were reported today.
The change will come into effect from 11:59pm Friday 11 March, and was announced by Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins today.
Household contacts will need to have a rapid antigen test at day 3 and day 7 of their isolation period. If they become symptomatic they should also get a test, and if the result is positive, they are required to isolate for seven days from that point.
If a person is isolating and still has symptoms after seven days, they are advised to stay home until 24 hours after symptoms resolve, according to the announcement.
The minister reiterated government’s commitment to reduce the spread of Omicron, but “high case numbers and household contacts, and the current 10 day isolation requirement, is having a wider impact on many parts of our lives,” Chris Hipkins said.
“There needs to be a balance between effectively controlling the outbreak and the flow-on effect for business and essential goods and services such as transport and food supply…Seven days isolation will break the vast majority of potential transmissions, while ensuring people can get back to work quicker and therefore reducing the impact on business operations.”
Change is also coming in the self-isolation needs of those cases who have recovered.
“…evidence also shows that the risk of reinfection within the first three months after someone has Omicron is very low.For this reason, recovered cases will no longer need to self-isolate if they become a household contact within 90 days after having the virus. This is an increase from the current 28 days,” Chris Hipkins said.
Meanwhile, third vaccine, Novavax has also become available in the country with arrival of 250,000 vaccines. Novavax is available for those people who would prefer, or require, an alternative.
Novavax will be available for people aged over 18. It requires two doses, with a three week gap. It has not been approved as a booster dose.