It’s been a while since we had a bit of jolly old COVID-19 rule change chaos. If you were getting bored, congratulations! National cabinet just agreed to relax the close contact rules.
Currently all the states have slightly different close contact rules even though there is a national definition.
According to that definition, you’re a close contact if you live in the same house as a COVID-positive person. You’re also a close contact if you’ve spent four hours or more with someone who has COVID in a house, health or aged care environment.
If you’re a close contact you have to isolate for seven days since you were last in contact with the COVID-positive person. Both Victoria and NSW define close contacts according to the national guideline (handy! We love a consistent queen).
So what’s changing with close contacts & iso?
We don’t know the specifics yet, but we do know that the iso requirements will be scrapped for some (read: SOME) close contacts under the rules.
National cabinet asked the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to give it urgent advice about who should still have to quarantine.
How quickly will those close contact changes happen?
According to 9News, each state and territory will probably introduce the changes at slightly different rates.
Honestly that makes sense given that all the states have very different pandemic approaches.
In SA for example, household contacts still have to iso for 14 days. Similarly close contacts are defined as people who have spent 15 minutes with a COVID-positive person instead of four hours.
What about COVID testing?
Changes could also be coming for COVID testing, too.
National cabinet agreed that the country should move away from PCR tests for COVID-positive people who have mild symptoms.
As per the ABC, if the AHPPC vibes with that idea then people will be asked to voluntarily self-iso. I have one thing to say about that: hmmm.
How is the COVID situation changing?
We’re all intimately familiar with how Ms Omicron wormed her way through the country in December and January. Each state and territory is experiencing community transmission of COVID at the moment.
It’s been predicted that NSW could see a doubling of COVID-19 cases in as little as six weeks.
That’s because a new, more infectious Omicron varian called BA.2 has become dominant in the state.
“It’s very preliminary and we need to do a lot more digging … but we are concerned at this point that BA.2 is amongst us and overtaking BA1,” NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said on Friday.
Anything else I should know?
Yes! As well as the chat around close contacts and COVID testing there were a couple of other big decisions made by national cabinet.
The first is that the national cabinet will come up with a “nationally consistent” plan to deal with cases of Japanese encephalitis.
It’ll also extend access to free RATs for concession holders by three months (make them free for everyone you cowards).
We’ll keep ya posted on when those changes come into play!