Manitoba shortens quarantine period for fully vaxxed

·3 min read

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 in 2022 — be it via PCR test or at-home swab — will be immediately required to self-isolate, but quarantine stints will soon be cut in half for many fully vaccinated Manitobans.

On Friday afternoon, the province announced it is making changes to the self-isolation public health order to adapt to the prevalence of rapid antigen tests and address the surge in cases because of Omicron.

"We have looked at data from Manitoba and other jurisdictions, and feel these changes will balance reducing the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring critical services can continue to operate," Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, said in a prepared release.

The adjustments, which come into effect after midnight on Jan. 1, 2022, will mandate all individuals who receive a positive rapid antigen test to go into quarantine.

For fully immunized people, isolation periods since the date of a test will be shortened to five days from 10 if the individual is not showing symptoms.

If an individual’s symptoms are improving and they do not have a fever, they may stop quarantine after five days since either the date their symptoms started appearing or the date of their test, whichever is later.

Manitobans who have only isolated for five days as a result of the above changes will then be required to wear medical-grade masks in public settings for five days after their quarantine.

Public health officials are asking that people leaving isolation avoid any non-essential visits to high-risk settings or non-essential contact with individuals who are high-risk for disease during that time.

For people who are not fully vaccinated, isolation will be required for 10 days after the date of their test, as long as their symptoms are improving and they do not have a fever.

Household close contacts who are exempt from self-isolation are expected to be cautious while a person is isolated and avoid non-essential visits of any kind.

Consistent with the current edition, the new order will require close contacts who are not exempt from self-isolation requirements to quarantine for 10 days and people to provide contact tracers, as required, with information about locations they have visited in the days leading up to infection.

Official public health documents and guidance related to the changes will be finalized in the coming days, according to the province.

Health Minister Audrey Gordon indicated in the New Year’s Eve release that the updates will reduce strain on both the health-system workforce and other key sectors as more workers report infections.

The province is updating its protocols in line with public health advice, she said.

On Monday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened recommended COVID-19 isolation periods for the general population, citing science showing the majority of transmission occurs early in the course of illness — "generally in the (one to two) days prior to onset of symptoms and the (two to three) days after."

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press

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