Health officials make change to home isolation Covid strategy
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr Simone Keizer-Beache
October 12, 2021

Health officials make change to home isolation Covid strategy

A CHANGE in the local COVID-19 isolation release strategy will see persons in home isolation being released without a PCR test, if they are asymptomatic for the last three days of the isolation period.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache, said on Sunday October 10, that this new strategy was implemented last Wednesday, October 6, based on advice from the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO),in June this year.

“The recommendations from WHO/PAHO are that if you have been in isolation for 14 days and you have been asymptomatic, no symptoms, no cough, no fever, for the last three days of that isolation period, you can be released from isolation without having a PCR,” the health official said during WEFM’s “Issues at Hand” programme on Sunday.

“So anybody who has been in isolation for 14 days, we should be contacting you. If we don’t get to contact you, we would ask that you contact your clinic to confirm that you can be released from isolation without having a PCR test.”

She noted however that if an individual is still experiencing symptoms after 14 days, they are advised to speak with a healthcare provider.

According to the CMO, the isolation period for someone who is fully vaccinated and has tested positive is 10 days, and 14 days for an unvaccinated person. This is also based on “worldwide evidence and recommendations from WHO and PAHO,” she said.

Due to the recent spike in positive cases, the country has once again begun experiencing a backlog in testing samples for COVID-19.

Keizer-Beache said work is being done to clear this backlog as soon as possible.

But authorities have also begun to implement new testing strategies to determine whether an individual is positive for the coronavirus.

In periods where there is no outbreak, persons who test positive on a rapid antigen test would also be administered a PCR test to confirm that they do in fact have COVID.

“…But what the evidence is clear, if somebody during an outbreak has symptoms which are consistent with COVID, there is no need to go from a positive antigen to a PCR,” Keizer-Beache explained.

As a result, the new testing strategy dictates that “if somebody has symptoms; fever, cough, cold and we do a rapid antigen test — that one is done on the spot, within 20 minutes, you have a result — once that’s positive, then you are considered positive for COVID”.

The CMO added that an individual who has symptoms but does not test positive on the antigen test, will be tested on the PCR.

Keizer-Beache also noted that a close contact is considered to be someone who has spent 15 minutes or more within two metres of a known positive individual.

Close contacts are advised to test between five and seven days after being in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.