IATF okays shorter quarantine for fully vaxxed health workers, home quarantine for mild and asymptomatic cases

Health workers (in blue) check identification documents of people queueing up for Coronavirus swab tests outside a gymnasium in Manila on January 7, 2022, as infections driven by the Omicron variant have tripled in the last two days in the nation’s capital. (Photo by AFP)

(Eagle News) — The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has approved shorter quarantine period — down to five days — for fully vaccinated health care workers, and home isolation for COVID-19 infected individuals who are either mild or asymptomatic, according to Malacanang.

This is in view of increasing health care utilization rate in the country as more and more hospitals are filling up with COVID-19 cases due to the highly infectious Omicron variant.

Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles said that the IATF uptated the isolation and quarantine protocols for health care workers and the public in its January 6, 2022 meeting.

Nograles said that the policy shift in quarantine and isolation was needed because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases that had also depleted hospital resources.

“First, hospital infection, prevention and control committees shall be authorized to implement shortened quarantine protocols of five days for their fully vaccinated healthcare workers consistent with healthcare capacity needs and individualized risk assessment,” Nograles said.

“In extreme circumstances and upon weighing the risks and benefits, hospital infection, prevention and control committees are also authorized to implement shortened isolation protocols for their COVID-19 confirmed fully vaccinated healthcare workers,” he said in a press briefing on Friday.

The IATF also approved the “home isolation of COVID-19 confirmed individuals with asymptomatic, mild or moderate disease.”

The IATF, likewise, allowed the home quarantine of close contacts of suspect, probable, or confirmed COVID-19 cases, said Nograles who also served as IATF co-chair, along with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Pinayagan ang home quarantine naman ng close contacts ng suspect, probable, or confirmed COVID-19 cases, subject to the more specific protocols as may be issued by the Department of Health,” he said.

Because increasing number of health care workers are getting sick, this has also affected the health care system in addressing the increasing number of cases.

-Slower releasing of lab test results-

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that this has also led to slower release of lab test results, such as RT-PCR tests.

“Unang-una po, talaga po naman na tumatagal ngayon ang paglabas ng mga laboratory test [result] natin dahil doon sa biglang demand for laboratory, dahil ang dami po nagkakasakit. Pangalawa po, iyong mga healthcare workers natin manning our laboratories are getting sick also, so medyo bumaba po ang kapasidad ng ating health human resources sa ating laboratories and that is the reason why nagkakaroon po ng delays ng pag-release ng laboratory test [result],” she explained in press briefing.

For those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, it is best to isolate and do self-quarantine even before they are tested. These individuals can maximize the use of telemedicine services, Vergeire said.

-Home quarantine guidelines-

Home quarantine and isolation is allowed for those who tested positive from COVID-19 but only have mild symptoms or have no symptoms at all (asymptomatic), but Vergeire said that this is only for individuals who have their own rooms with comfort rooms.

Gusto rin po naming ipaalala na ang home quarantine or isolation ay pinapayagan po basta mayroon po kayong sariling kuwarto at sariling banyo sa inyong bahay at mababantayan po kayo ng inyong local government unit o ng inyong health care provider. Kung kayo po ay positive at wala po kayong
sariling kuwarto at banyo sa inyong bahay, kayo po ay dapat dalhin sa isang accredited isolation facility upang maiwasan pang makapanghawa sa loob ng inyong tahanan,” the DOH official said.

In case of whole families who are close contacts or who were exposed to COVID-19 positive individuals, they can undergo home quarantine provided they do not have elderly members of the household who are considered to be much more vulnerable to having the severe form of the disease.

Paalala na ang lahat ng kasama sa bahay ay maituturing na exposed ay kinu-consider na close contacts. Kapag lahat po sa bahay ang exposed at matuturing na close contact, ang mga ito ay maaari na pong mag-home quarantine particular kung walang sintomas, kung hindi senior citizens o walang comorbidity ang kasama at hindi po makakahalubilo ang ibang mga positibo. So maaari na po na isang buong bahay ay makapag-quarantine kayong magkakasama kung wala po kayong senior citizen, kung walang taong may comorbidity o kung wala pong positibo na makakahalubilo ninyo sa loob ng inyong pamamahay,” Vergeire explained.

But she reminded those under home quarantine to still follow minimum public health standards such as the wearing of face masks, observing physical distancing, regular disinfection and ensuring good ventilation at home.

(Eagle News Service)