The isolation length for Covid cases and household contacts will be decreased from 10 days to seven, kicking in from 11.59pm on 11 March.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that “high case numbers and household contacts, and the current 10 day isolation requirement, is having a wider impact on many parts of our lives”.
“There needs to be a balance between effectively controlling the outbreak and the flow-on effect for business and essential goods and services such as transport and food supply.
“The most up to date public health advice is that there is a decline in infectiousness of Omicron over time, and that in most cases transmission occurs within seven days,” he said.
Hipkins said the reduction follows “similar changes overseas and increasing evidence that people are most likely to transmit the virus earlier in their infectious period”.
He said evidence showed the risk of reinfection with Covid in the first three months “is very low”.
“For this reason, recovered cases will no longer need to self-isolate if they become a household contact within 90 days after having the virus. This is an increase from the current 28 days.”
Director of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said last week that people who had already contracted Covid and had undergone their isolation period did not need to re-isolate “for a period of some months” if they then become a household contact
“They would have a high level of immunity, and of course be at a very low risk of being infected and therefore at a low risk of infecting others,” he said at the time.
Under the new isolation rules, household contacts still need to take RAT tests on day 3 and 7 of the isolation period.
“If they become symptomatic they should also get a test, and if the result is positive, they are required to isolate for seven days from that point,” Hipkins said.
“If a person is isolating and still has symptoms after seven days, they are advised to stay home until 24 hours after symptoms resolve.”
The NZSA will provide further updates as they become available.
The NZSA team.