The isolation period for Australians who contract COVID-19 could be shortened even further, as the country’s chief health officers consider following the United States’ move to reduce isolation times to less than a week.
Per the Sydney Morning Herald, an anonymous government source said the group of CHOs (who make up the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee) was likely to make the recommendation to the national cabinet in the new year.
It’s not yet known whether the reduced isolation period will only apply to people who are COVID-positive but asymptomatic, or if it will apply to everyone who contracts the virus in Australia.
This potential further shortening of the isolation period for COVID-positive Aussies comes after the Victorian government reduced it from two weeks to 10 days in November.
The NSW government followed suit just before Christmas.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said the state — which recorded 11,201 new cases on Wednesday — was considering bringing the isolation period down after the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US updated its rules, but said it needs to be a national approach in Australia.
“I firmly believe it’s worthy of strong consideration, but preferably it should be done in a national uniform approach approved through [the Health Protection Principal Committee],” he said.
“I’m very aware the CDC has reduced the period of isolation. This is a proportionate risk environment that we’re in, and having periods of isolation that impinge on the economic capacity of business and individuals is very problematic.”
At the time of writing, anyone who contracts COVID-19 in NSW or Victoria needs to isolate for 10 days from the day they were tested.
In NSW if you have no symptoms for 72 hours before that 10 days is complete, you may leave isolation. Down south in Victoria, you must isolate for the full 10 days from your test but you are not required to complete another PCR swab test at the end of your isolation period.