DOH: IATF has approved shorter COVID-19 quarantine period

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 13 2022 10:39 PM | Updated as of Jan 14 2022 02:56 PM

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MANILA -- (2nd UPDATE) The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has approved the shortened COVID-19 quarantine period, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday.

The updated health mandate will take effect as soon as the "policy is issued," DOH spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview on Teleradyo.

Anyone with mild coronavirus symptoms, which cover the public and healthcare workers, must isolate for 7 days, while those who are not fully vaccinated must do so for 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

For moderate cases the requirement is 10 days regardless of the vaccination status, and for severe infections the mandate is 21 days. 

Asymptomatic close contacts who are fully vaccinated must quarantine for 5 days; those not vaccinated must do so for 14 days.

A mild infection exhibits coughs, colds, fever, and body pain but not necessarily all at the same time, while moderate COVID patients have pneumonia but do not require oxygen aid.

Healthcare workers who have been exposed, meanwhile, will only need to isolate for 5 days, or shorter, depending on the risk assessment of their hospital or health facility. 

Counting for the updated isolation period guideline begins on the first day of the onset of symptoms. 

Individuals under the A1, A2 and A3 categories — or healthcare workers, senior citizens, and the immunocompromised — will be prioritized for testing so they can get medications within the first 5 days of exhibiting symptoms.

The approval of the shorter isolation period for COVID-19 patients came 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. 

"We are not issuing a policy to give more harm to our healthcare workers or to our patients. Ito po ay base sa siyensiya (this is based on science)," Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing Friday.

"This is also to protect our resources para tayo ay tuloy-tuloy na makapagbigay ng serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan (so we continuously serve the public)."

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.