Shortened isolation period for COVID-stricken health workers backed by science: doctor


Posted at Jan 11 2022 11:49 AM

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MANILA – The Department of Health is justified in shortening the quarantine for novel coronavirus-stricken healthcare workers to 5 days, a doctor said Tuesday.

“The thing is if they don’t shorten it, the more that the hospitals are gonna lose their healthcare workers,” Dr. Consorcia Lim-Quizon of the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group told ANC’s “Rundown.”

“Because as is, you know, there are hospitals that have to close their other departments because there’s simply no people there to man those departments,” she added.

“So they are justified in shortening it for healthcare workers because there’s a science behind it, that at least what the international health organizations are telling us--that we can be safe enough to shorten the quarantine period for the healthcare workers at least,” she said.

Asked if the shortened quarantined period may be applied to frontliners working in banks and government agencies, Quizon said, “Well as of the moment ‘no, we’re more secure, we, the Department of Health is more secure in recommending for the healthcare workers.”

“I think because by and large, more than 95 percent of healthcare workers are already vaccinated, and boosted, and they know exactly how to take care of themselves compared to the lay people,” she explained.

The doctor noted that studies have shown that the omicron variant of the novel coronavirus has a shorter period of infectivity.

“So the bad news is that the omicron variant is highly transmissible. However, they also found out that the period of infectivity for this particular variant is shorter. It’s 2-6 days. In some studies. So you know, that’s why they were justified that there’s science behind shortening the quarantine period.”

“You may argue that ‘Doctor, it’s 6 days, why are you doing 5 days?’ You know, but again, that’s a range. 2-6 or 3-6 days is a range. The true value of the infectivity period may be somewhere in the middle of the 2-6 days range.”

“And so we are, I think we are quite secure that doing 5 days would be safe enough,” she said.

Presidential Adviser for COVID-19 Response Vince Dizon said Monday that government is mulling a shorter isolation period for people who get infected by COVID-19.

This comes after 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 (CDC), for one, 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.

Quizon said a shorter isolation period for Filipinos may be possible once more people get vaccinated.

“I will see that happening in the Philippines if our vaccination rate or coverage for our general population would increase. As it stands, I think we have accomplished more than 50 percent, but in the countries that you mentioned, their vaccination rate is what, 60-70 percent,” she said.

“But on the other hand, what is good for us, is that by and large we wear masks. You know if you look at the recommendation of the US CDC, it says 5 days of isolation and quarantine and then they can do another 5 days but wear masks. For us, it is a matter of course that we wear masks.”

“So I think that is something that will be very protective of our population in general if and when we consider to shorten also the quarantine period for the general population,” she added.

--ANC, 11 January 2021