Masks

The United States has halved the recommended isolation time for people with asymptomatic COVID-19.

The recommendation of the US health authorities to cut the quarantine duration from 10 to five days is designed to allow people to return to work sooner, minimising the prospect of mass labour shortages in key parts of the economy.

The CDC’s recommendations state that the five-day isolation period be “followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others.”

Last week, the UK also cut its self-isolation period from 10 days to seven. Quarantine for vaccinated and unvaccinated people who have tested positive for coronavirus can be reduced by three days if they get the all-clear from lateral flow tests.

People who receive negative results from tests taken 24 hours apart on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period will no longer have to self-isolate for the full 10 days, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.

However, those who are not fully vaccinated will still have to isolate for the full 10 days if they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive.

Meanwhile, South Africa announced it has done away with quarantine completely for everyone except those who are displaying symptoms, including people who have tested positive but show no symptoms, as long as they wear a mask and social distance in public.

“Containment strategies are no longer appropriate – mitigation is the only viable strategy,” a Government notice said.

Anyone showing mild symptoms –  fever, cough, loss of taste or smell – will need to isolate for eight days. Workers will no longer need to show a negative COVID-19 test when returning to work. Contact tracing will also be dropped in most cases.

In Malta too, the increase in quarantined workers caused by the latest surge in cases is exacerbating an already serious labour shortage, particularly in the catering and hospitality sectors, with the Malta Employes Association calling the situation “alarming”.

Here, the quarantine period for people testing positive remains 14 days, while a quarantine of eight days must be observed by vaccinated people coming into contact with someone who has tested positive, with a negative test result required on the seventh day.

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