You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Slashing COVID isolation period from seven to five days risks driving up cases - Verrall

Newshub logo Newshub 4 days ago Mark Quinlivan

The Government is reviewing whether the isolation period for COVID-19 cases and household contacts could be slashed to five days, down from the current week.

But COVID-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall said any isolation period reduction, which would be the third since the start of the Omicron outbreak, risked driving up case numbers.

"There's currently a review of that underway," Dr Verrall said of the isolation period during an interview with Newshub Nation.

"I think we always look at the evidence there. 

"There is a risk that if we shorten isolation periods and drive up case numbers, we actually don't help businesses at all."

A five-day isolation period would match the likes of the US

Currently, household contacts of COVID-19 cases also needed to isolate for seven days. Dr Verrall told Newshub Nation host Simon Shepherd that was another area the Government was "looking at closely". 

"That is what I've asked officials to have a look at," she added.

Dr Verrall also signalled the further rolling out of a second COVID-19 booster jab - currently only available to people aged 50 and over, and health, aged care and disability workers aged 30 and older. 

"These items are under current consideration and I think we'll hear very soon about that," she said.

© Provided by Newshub

A history of isolation periods

On February 15, the Government reduced the COVID-19 isolation period from two weeks to 10 days as the highly-infectious Omicron outbreak tightened its grip and businesses struggled to operate due to workers being forced into the lengthy isolation periods.

The most recent change came in March when that isolation period was further reduced to a week from 10 days.

New Zealand's latest wave of COVID-19 is beginning to wane. The Ministry of Health registered just over 5000 cases on Friday with 605 people in hospital.

"We can see here on the slide that case rates have continued to trend lower across all regions for the second week running, dropping 18 percent in the last week to July 31," Public Health Agency Deputy Director-General Andrew Old said on Thursday.

"Cases amongst people over the age of 65, which is one of the age groups that has been hardest hit in this most recent surge, have dropped by 21 percent in the past week and both of those falls are higher, more accelerated than they were in the previous week.

"While we know that some cases will always go unreported, testing of healthcare workers and our ongoing wastewater surveillance also supports the conclusion that for now at least we're seeing a true decline in community transmission of COVID-19.

"It's encouraging that this decline is occurring despite the increasing proportion of sequence samples being the more BA.5 Omicron subvariant, which in the latest data is up to 76 percent of all samples now.

"While lower cases are a good sign, we know that COVID-19 hospitalisations and COVID-19 deaths lag behind any decrease in cases… I want to stress that our hospitals remain under significant pressure from COVID-19 illness."

Watch the full interview with Dr Verrall above. Watch Newshub Nation 9:30am Saturday/10am Sunday on TV3 and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. NZ On Air supports Newshub Nation.

More from Newshub

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon