COVID Rules Change as Omicron Numbers Surge

 

THE rules surrounding contact with COVID-19 have been urgently revised by the National Cabinet as the nation faces surging case numbers and long waits for PCR testing.

In a major shake up Australians will no longer need to isolate for 14 days after contracting COVID-19 with the new national standard being that those testing positive to COVID-9 required to undergo seven days isolation commencing on the day of testing and unless otherwise advised a person may leave isolation after seven days without formal notification or a further test.

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However, people in this category must take precautions (mask etc) and avoid high risk settings, such as hospitals and aged care facilities for a further three days.

Close contacts has been redefined as a person who is a household contact, or where more than four hours of exposure has occurred in a residential setting; and any contacts in a setting where Health has determined there to be a high level of transmission.

Close contacts are required to undertake seven days isolation from the day of exposure, and obtain a PCR test as soon as possible.

They should avoid high risk settings, such as hospitals and aged care should be avoided for a further seven days.
A further rapid antigen test (RAT) is required at Day 6 and, if positive, must be followed by a PCR test.

All other contacts must monitor for symptoms and if symptoms develop, undertake a PCR test.

These contact and isolation arrangements apply to all people, regardless of vaccination status.

NSW Health is developing guidelines to allow social contacts to assess their risk.

Effective immediately testing requirements for international travellers will also be revised.

All fully vaccinated international travellers and flight crew arriving in NSW will be required to undertake a Rapid Antigen Test on days one and six after arrival.

Symptomatic arrivals will be required to get a PCR as soon as possible and isolate until a negative result is received.
If the PCR test is positive, the arrival must treat themselves as a positive case.

Under existing arrangements, all international travellers and flight crew are also required to produce a negative pre-departure test, within three days of boarding their flight.

Unvaccinated arrivals will continue to be quarantined (capped at 210 per week) and require PCR testing.

Guidelines will be developed recommending international arrivals not attend at an aged care, health care, disability care or correctional facility for seven days after arrival.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said this approach to dealing with COVID would provide certainty for people as we continue to chart a course out of the pandemic.

“Across the country we have done an incredible job in getting vaccinated to protect people and our health systems.

“High vaccination rates mean we can adapt our response to deal with the new challenges that come our way,” Mr Perrottet said.

“These changes will ensure our health system continues to work for people who need it most.

“We need everyone to keep playing their part and to only come forward to get tested if they have a medical need or are directed to do so.

“NSW has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and it is vital we maintain that advantage and people book in for their booster shots as soon as they can to protect themselves, their families and the community.”

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said it was important our health system was reserved for people who needed it.

“Our frontline health workers have done an amazing job over the past two years and their efforts have helped keep countless people safe and we can’t thank them enough,” Mr Hazzard said.

“As we learn to live with COVID, people must make sure they only seek testing if they are feeling unwell, or are otherwise advised to get tested.”

Case numbers across Hunter New England are rising at an alarming rate given that many testing facilities have been closed over the Christmas New Year period.

New Year’s Day saw the region experience 1,811 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Hunter New England region diagnosed to 8pm on New Years Eve and there were 6,060 total active cases in the District, 45 of these cases were receiving care in our hospitals and three were in ICU.

On 8 January these numbers had escalated to a total of 4,432 new COVID-19 cases in the day, and of the 19,755 total active cases, 106 were receiving care in our hospitals and nine were in ICU.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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