Covid-19: NSW shakes up close contact, isolation rules

Covid-19 testing and isolation rules have been relaxed in NSW while cases continue to surge. File photo.


In a win for proponents of looser restrictions around Covid-19, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet today announced the onus would be on individuals to inform their close contacts of a positive test result and scrapped the need for some close contacts to isolate, as part of a huge overhaul to Covid-19 quarantine rules.

Under the changes, only a “small number” of people, such as healthcare workers, will be ordered into self-isolation after close contact with someone who has tested positive to Covid.

The changes, announced by Perrottet at a press conference this morning, were further detailed by a NSW Health media release, which outlined the new, relatively ‘hands off’ approach to those who test positive to Covid-19 and their close contacts.

“People who have been confirmed as Covid-19 cases are asked to tell those they have recently spent time with that they have tested positive,” the NSW Health statement said.

“NSW Health will only contact a small number of exposed people to direct them into self-isolation under the public health order,” the department said.

“Most people who become aware that they been exposed to a person with Covid-19 will be advised of this by their friends, colleagues and social networks.”

The statement further clarified that close contacts of confirmed Covid cases would now only be expected to isolate until they get a negative test.

“When the negative test result is received, they can leave isolation.”

Contacts will, however, be expected to continue to monitor for symptoms and get re-tested if they fall ill.

“NSW Health asks that they continue to be aware of any developing Covid-19 symptoms,” the statement read.

“’If symptoms do later appear, people are asked to immediately seek a PCR test, and isolate until a negative test is received.”

‘Do this nationwide’: Perrottet

The premier told today’s media conference he wanted to see the changes in NSW implemented across Australia.

“I certainly believe it would be best if we had a national approach,” he said.

“And I certainly look forward to having those discussions tomorrow,” he added, pre-empting tomorrow’s emergency national cabinet meeting of the federal government and all states and territories.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet. File photo.

The meeting was convened by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to discuss issues relating to the “Omicron effect” and the stresses placed by Omicron on Australia’s health system and Covid testing capacity.

The Prime Minister has already flagged his support for a NSW-style overhaul of close contact arrangements, ostensibly to free people up from “unnecessary isolation requirements”.

Ahead of the meeting, NSW Health today reported that 11,201 new infections and three deaths were recorded yesterday.