Spain is being hit by a wave of the heavily mutated Omicron variant as the latest data from the Ministry of Health on Tuesday reveals that it has recorded nearly 100,000 new infections. On Wednesday, the health ministry reduced the isolation period for people who tested positive for COVID-19 to seven days from ten, despite new infections reaching record highs.
Isolation time for close contacts of those who tested positive has also been reduced to seven days, but more than 500,000 people could be spared if the Public Health Commission decides to scrap quarantine altogether for this group.
Spain’s decision, taken unanimously at a meeting between Health Minister Carolina Darias and regional health chiefs, follows similar moves by other countries, including the UK and the United States. United States.
A regional health official said: “We have to adapt to the new situation created by the omicron variant.
“Circulation of the virus is very high and cases are increasing exponentially, but it is also true that the vast majority of cases are very mild or asymptomatic in vaccinated people.
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“This means that it starts to make less sense to maintain such a long isolation period, which was agreed upon for previous variants and which comes at a huge economic cost.”
The UK has chosen to shorten the isolation period to seven days, given the negative patient tests in the past two days.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the United States announced that people without symptoms could leave isolation after just five days, but the patient is encouraged to wear a face mask in all settings for an additional five days.
José Miguel Cisneros, head of infectious diseases at Virgen del Rocío Hospital in Seville, said: “The most consistent studies show that positives are no longer contagious in mild or asymptomatic forms of infection after the seventh day.
“This is the main reason for the prolonged isolation of these workers, and it makes no sense.
“Between 20% and 30% are still positive ten days or even weeks later and they have to prolong isolation when the positive test is due to traces of RNA from the virus which can no longer infect.”
It comes as the country reports record daily infections, although hospitalizations remain relatively low.
Daily intensive care admissions are equivalent to 44% of the worst peak of the January 2021 wave.
While in the past seven days more cases have been recorded than ever before in the pandemic and 60% more than in the worst January 2021.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega