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Immediate change in mandatory quarantine for close contacts of a positive case

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Close contacts of people who test positive for the coronavirus no longer need to quarantine as long as they have been fully vaccinated within six months and are showing no symptoms, the Government said last night.

The change, announced last week, was expected to happen this Thursday but the Ministry of Health said that it would come into effect immediately to ease the pressure on businesses and services throughout the island.

A spokeswoman added that daily antigen testing for seven days was “strongly recommended”.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, said: “To reduce the high workload and pressure on the case management team, we have decided not to delay this policy change.

“On Thursday, we announced that this change would come into effect on January 20, 2022.

“Effecting this change immediately is vital to reduce staffing pressures in the public and private sector as we progress towards living with the coronavirus.”

The ministry spokeswoman explained that "mandatory quarantine will no longer be required for contacts of a positive case“ if contacts have no Covid-19 symptoms and their last vaccine – either a second or booster dose – was in the past six months.

She added: “However, it is strongly recommended that daily antigen tests be taken for self-monitoring during the seven days after close contact, especially if you will be entering a workplace setting or place where you will be in contact with others outside of your household.”

Ms Wilson explained: “If you are a close contact, having had your second or third dose within the last six months, and are not experiencing Covid symptoms, you do not have to quarantine, but you must follow all public health guidance with regards to mask-wearing and exercise caution.

“If you have received a letter that states you must quarantine, but you have received your second or third dose within the last six months and you are not experiencing any Covid symptoms, you are released from quarantine, and your seven days of monitoring will start on the date that you were directed to commence quarantine.

“For example, if you were directed to quarantine starting on January 10, your seven-day monitoring period will end on January 17, and you will not be required to attend a PCR test on Day 10.

“The Ministry of Health will not be issuing new letters to those vaccinated or boosted persons to whom this new policy applies.”

Ms Wilson said: “We rely on these persons and local employers to follow the guidance as the whole community must take responsibility and do the right thing as individual actions affect everyone around us.

“Our children, parents, friends and colleagues may become infected if we do not follow public health guidance to reduce the spread of this virus.”

Changes to testing for travellers and the isolation requirements for people who receive a positive coronavirus test result will still come into effect on January 20.

The ministry spokeswoman said that Covid-19 symptoms included a fever of 100.4F or chills, a cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

Other signs of the virus are fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; a sore throat; congestion or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; diarrhoea; and sudden confusion or brain fog.

Ms Wilson said: “Each of us has a vital role to play in protecting our community and our hospital.

“As I said earlier, everyone should follow public health guidance – avoid closed spaces, crowded places and close contact settings.

“Wear a mask indoors and outdoors if you cannot physically distance, practise good hand hygiene, maintain physical distance, and download the WeHealth Bermuda app.”

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Published January 17, 2022 at 2:50 pm (Updated January 17, 2022 at 2:50 pm)

Immediate change in mandatory quarantine for close contacts of a positive case

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