By Elesha George
Asymptomatic Covid-19 patients (people who never developed symptoms) who have been in quarantine for more than 14 days are told that they can now leave their homes.
The Chief Medical Officer Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas said this new guideline, which will take effect immediately, is based on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and internal consultations.
According to Dr Sealey-Thomas, the WHO changed their guidelines a few months ago, however local health authorities continued with precautionary steps.
She announced Wednesday morning that contacts of persons who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 will no longer require testing upon release, as part of updated guidelines for Covid-19.
A contact refers to someone who has had face-to-face interaction with someone who has been diagnosed with the virus and has been placed in quarantine as a result.
However, these persons must remain in quarantine for 14 days and will only be able to leave on day 14.
“You remain at home separate from other persons. If you develop signs and symptoms, you seek medical attention. If you remain asymptomatic, quarantine will now end on the same 14 days but without a test. At the end of the 14 days, you are free to go once you had remained asymptomatic without a Covid-19 test,” the doctor explained.
These persons will also no longer need a letter releasing them from quarantine.
Dr Sealey-Thomas said the end of their sick leave will serve as the end of their quarantine period and should allow them to resume work.
In addition, a person diagnosed with Covid-19 will no longer be required to present two negative real-time PCR tests in order to be released from isolation.
An asymptomatic person diagnosed and isolated with Covid-19 can be released after 10 days in isolation with a rapid antigen test sanctioned by the WHO since they are said to no longer be infectious.
According to Head of the Laboratory at the Sir Lester Bird Medical Center, Dr Lester Simon, “when you look at a person the end stage of a person who is recovering from Covid-19, the virus at that 14-day period is dead and non-infectious”.
The CMO also said that “these persons can be released after 10 days with a rapid antigen test and for those who are symptomatic, it’s 10 days plus three days without symptoms”.
Prior to this change, a person who would have been confirmed as having Covid-19 would have had to present two negative real-time PCR tests done within 48 hours of each other in order to be released from isolation.
Health authorities said they are willing to meet with the Antigua and Barbuda Employers Federation to appraise them of these changes.