People who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be receiving a separate notice about their quarantine period, Public Health chief Charmaine Gauci said on Thursday.

Instead, the notice informing them that they had tested positive will also tell them, and their household, to quarantine. 

Patients will then need to work out the length of their quarantine on the basis of their situation, such as whether they had received the booster shot.  This notice can also be shown to employers. The test day is to be considered as Day Zero.

Gauci was speaking on the Ask Charmaine programme on Times of Malta.

New quarantine rules were introduced last Monday.

The quarantine period has been reduced from 14 to 10 days for those infected with the virus and who have taken the booster jab. To be allowed out on the 10th day, they must also be free of COVID-19 symptoms for three days.  

Those living in the same household as an infected person may also exit quarantine after 10 days if both they and the infected person have had the booster. If not, the entire household must quarantine for 14 days. 

Those who did not take the booster need to quarantine for 14 days. 

Primary contacts who were fully vaccinated can exit quarantine if they test negative for the virus after the contact has taken place and again after a week.  

Secondary contacts who have received a booster dose (and 14 days have passed since getting it) do not need to quarantine at all.  Secondary contacts are those who meet those primary contacts, such as members of the same household.

Vaccination for children

Asked about vaccination for children aged five to 11, Gauci said parents are being contacted to take  their children for vaccination. 

“We are seeing a very good uptake, it is very encouraging,” she said, adding that people should not call before receiving their invitation for vaccination. The bigger the update, the fewer the cases of COVID-19 in that age group, she said. 

She said that while the virus did not cause severe symptoms, those who had underlying conditions could end up in hospital. 

Hospitalisation: Majority of patients were admitted for other reasons

On hospitalisation, she said the situation was stable. She revealed that a majority of COVID cases in hospital were actually patients who were admitted for other reasons and were found to be carrying the virus while in hospital.

Other cases were patients who were suffering complications from COVID, including five in intensive care. This number, she said, is on a downward trend. 

She said that ahead of January 17, when vaccination certificates will be required for entry to most venues, standards are being prepared by the authorities and will be issued next week.

They will include situations as in the case of virus-positive patients who cannot take the booster unless four weeks has elapsed.  

Asked if the new medicine for COVID patients will be available in Malta, Gauci said this medicine is used only for people most at risk. The situation is being monitored, as is the availability of the medicine. 

On the prevalence of Omicron, Gauci said most cases in Malta are now Omicron, although a few Delta cases remain. Omicron was clearly causing less severe complications than Delta.

Prof Gauci was interviewed by Claire Farrugia. 

 

 

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