Philippines mulls cutting COVID-19 isolation period for more people

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 10 2022 02:20 PM | Updated as of Jan 10 2022 02:44 PM

Health workers attend to people with various ailments at the Sta. Ana Hospital's triage area in Manila on Jan. 7, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Health workers attend to people with various ailments at the Sta. Ana Hospital's triage area in Manila on Jan. 7, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines mulls shortening the COVID-19 isolation period for more people, an official said on Monday, as the country battled an uptick in infections. 

To ensure that health facilities will have enough manpower, government recently shortened the isolation period to 5 days for coronavirus-stricken medical workers who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic, noted Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 Response Vince Dizon. 

Close contacts no longer need to isolate if they have no COVID-19 symptoms, he said. 

"Sa ngayon po, for healthcare workers lang po," said Dizon.

"Pero pinag-aaralan na rin po ng ating mga eksperto ang ginagawa sa ibang bansa tulad ng Amerika at Europa na nagpapaiksi ng isolation lalo na para sa mga bakunado na. Pinag-aaralan po natin iyan at hopefully po magkakaroon tayo ng mga pagbabago sa ating mga polisiya sa mga susunod na linggo," he said in a televised public briefing. 

(For now, that is only for healthcare workers. But our experts are studying the experience of other countries like the US and Europe, which shortened the isolation, especially for vaccinated people. That is being studied and hopefully, we will have changes in our policies in the next weeks.) 

Several countries reduced their isolation period after the highly transmissible omicron COVID-19 variant spread globally, leading to worker shortages at airlines, schools and businesses. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its move to cut in half to 5 days the isolation period after COVID-19 infection was based on science around transmission of the virus. 

A review of 113 studies from 17 countries showed that most transmission occurs early in the course of infection, the CDC said in its website. It said the average period of infectiousness and risk of transmission was "between 2-3 days before and 8 days after symptom onset." 

The Philippines has detected 43 cases of the omicron variant. Its capacity for genome sequencing is limited. 

On Sunday, the country reported a record number of 28,707 new COVID-19 cases, the health department said. 

Another 15 people died from COVID-19, the agency said, bringing the total death toll to 52,150. The country has reported a total of more than 2.96 million cases since the pandemic started. 

— With a report from Reuters