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Covid-19 quarantine period to be shortened next week

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Quarantine and test rules will be loosened next week, the health minister announced today.

Kim Wilson also signalled changes to test requirements for schoolchildren, with a switch from PCR testing requirements to antigen testing.

Ms Wilson said the quarantine period for people who tested positive for the coronavirus would drop from 14 days to ten from January 20.

The requirement for a clear PCR test at the end of the 14 day quarantine has been changed to a verified clear antigen test at the end of the ten day isolation period.

For immunised people, the isolation period at present is ten days, to be ended with a clear PCR test.

That will change to seven days, with a requirement for a clear antigen test at the end.

Immunised people who have also had the booster jab and who have been in close contact with a positive case will no longer have to quarantine, but must get a clear antigen test on Day 7.

Quarantine rules for people waiting to be repatriated overseas will switch to the rules of the traveller’s home country.

Ms Wilson said the requirement from Saturday to have a booster shot to get a new SafeKey from had been changed to a February 15 start date.

Tinée Furbert, the acting education minister, admitted there had been “fierce criticism” after a test system logjam earlier this month disrupted the scheduled start of the new school term.

Ms Furbert apologised for the inconvenience, but said there had been “unprecedented demand” placed on test resources.

The easing of restrictions in schools came after talks this morning with the education emergency measures committee.

A home antigen testing programme will be launched at selected schools this weekend.

Ms Furbert said that staff and pupils had earlier had to get a clear PCR test before they came back to school after a break.

The requirement will be switched to a verified clear antigen test.

She said the saliva test regime was “on pause” at present.

General testing will move to home antigen testing, with tests provided free of charge, starting next Wednesday.

Ms Furbert appealed to parents to supply accurate test results – and for them to keep their children at home if they tested positive.

She said: “Let us pull together to win together.”

She also outlined the retesting schedule for school staff and pupils.

Preschoolers were retested on Monday and primary school pupils got retested yesterday and today.

Middle school students will be retested next Monday and parents of middle school pupils will be notified later of the test schedule for their children.

The news came as the Government said it was considering a change in quarantine requirements as essential services were hit by staff shortages because of a surge in cases of the Omicron variant.

The Bermuda Hospitals Board said 150 staff were off work because of the coronavirus.

The fire service has also been affected and the police have 48 staff off work.

Many schools failed to return on time earlier this month because of a massive backlog of tests.

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Published January 13, 2022 at 4:25 pm (Updated January 13, 2022 at 4:25 pm)

Covid-19 quarantine period to be shortened next week

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