Malta needs to adjust its COVID-19 measures according to the latest information about the Omicron variant, the Malta Association of Public Health Medicine said on Tuesday.

It said in a statement that while the drive should continue to get as many people vaccinated or administered the booster dose, some short-term restrictions are necessary to limit further transmission of COVID-19.

These should include stopping mass gatherings and social events. Smoking, it said, should not be allowed in outdoor public spaces as this allows spread when the mask is removed.

Current rules around mass events and wearing of masks, including in offices and crowded outdoor areas,  should be respected and enforced.

Shorter quarantine

Notwithstanding the urgent need to step up measures to reduce further spread of the virus, the association said current policies for quarantine should be reviewed to reflect the latest evidence on how the virus is spread.

Patients are mostly contagious in the few days before and after onset of symptoms, it observed. Therefore, the current, mandatory 14-day quarantine for cases, primary (high-risk) contacts and secondary contacts of COVID-19 cases was both unnecessary and counterproductive.

Instead, the association proposed that people with confirmed COVID-19 and their household members can be isolated/quarantined for ten days.

High-risk contacts who are vaccinated should be placed in quarantine for seven days. If symptoms develop, testing is recommended, but is not otherwise required for release from quarantine.

Household members of primary contacts (i.e. secondary contacts) should not be kept in quarantine if asymptomatic.

The association called for provision of self-tests and investment in the digital public health infrastructure to improve operational workflows. 

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