Health Dept. announces changes in COVID-19 rules
By John McPhaul
Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López on Sunday announced changes in the Guidelines for the Investigation of COVID-19 Cases and Tracing of Contacts establishing reduced periods of isolation and quarantine.
The recommendations are for both public and private sector workers. They also include students from educational institutions. The isolation period will take into consideration the vaccination status and the manifestation of symptoms, whether mild, moderate, or severe, and asymptomatic patients.
“In line with the provisions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we have aligned the time periods for quarantines and isolation to prevent any confusion on the subject and to be able to focus on access to vaccines and treatments for people infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, especially populations at risk,” Mellado López said in a written statement.
Meanwhile, the period for quarantine will depend on the vaccination status of the person who was exposed to a positive case of COVID-19. Close contacts with up-to-date vaccinations do not have to quarantine, but must have a viral test on the 5th day after exposure and continue symptom monitoring for 10 days after the last exposure.
In the case of people who do not have their vaccination series up to date or are not vaccinated, they must quarantine for a period of five days. On the fifth day they should have a viral test; if the result is negative, they can return to their daily activities. While waiting for the result, individuals should not assume that the result will be negative, so they should continue to quarantine and monitor their symptoms for 10 days.
As explained by the Health secretary, the guidelines now recommend the following:
* The asymptomatic person with up-to-date vaccination: should have an isolation period of five days after receiving their positive antigen or molecular test result. You can resume normal activities on day six. You must wear a mask that covers your nose, mouth, and chin at all times from day six to day 10.
* The person with mild to moderate symptoms with up-to-date vaccination must remain in isolation for seven days after the onset of symptoms. The person must continue to wear their mask completely covering their nose, mouth, and chin at all times from day eight to day 10.
* Person without vaccination: Must keep 10 days of isolation from the onset of symptoms or first positive test. You can resume daily activities from day 11.
* People with severe symptoms, immunocompromised people or pregnant women: The period of isolation will be determined in consultation with your health service provider.
“It is important to emphasize the difference between isolation and quarantine as it can cause confusion. Isolation is refraining from any activity including not going to work, school, using public transportation, or shopping after having a positive viral test. It is staying at home and not having physical contact with others. This helps us reduce the possibility of infection from other people,” said Dr. Melissa Marzán, chief epidemiology officer. “In the case of quarantine, it is carried out by people who had close contact with a person sick with COVID-19. This means that he/she was at a distance of less than six feet for 15 minutes or more cumulatively in a 24-hour period.”
The Department of Health urges citizens to stay up to date with the most up-to-date information on the guidelines by visiting www.salud.pr.gov and the social networks Instagram (desaludpr), Twitter (@desaludpr) and on Facebook (Puerto Rico Department of Health). Anyone who has questions about whether to quarantine or isolate can call the COVID-19 Counseling Center at 939-592-5115.