Change in guidance re self-isolating & close contacts
The Northern Ireland Department of Health has changed the guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19): self-isolating and close contacts. This follows changes to the rules on testing that came into force on 22 April 2022.
In summary, the changes are to:
- the definition of a close contact;
- cessation of wider community contact tracing; and
- the rules on self- isolation. Specifically there is now no difference in the guidance for those who are vaccinated and those who are unvaccinated.
We have set out these changes below and how they will affect businesses.
Self-isolation for those who test positive for Covid (no change)
If employees test positive, they should self-isolate for up to 10 days from date they took Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test or the date symptoms started (whichever is sooner). That date is considered to be Day Zero.
As before, they can potentially end self-isolation early from Day 6, if they have 2 consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart. This applies to both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons as there is now no difference in their treatment.
Close contacts of someone with Covid
The guidance now defines close contacts as those that live in same household as the person who has tested positive for Covid.
Routine contact tracing in wider community has stopped. The emphasis is now on the person who tests positive identifying their close contacts (whether household or workplace) rather than individuals being notified by the Public Health Agency. These close contacts are not required to self-isolate but to be alert to any signs that they are developing Covid.
Close contacts will not be advised to do LFD unless they develop symptoms.
Advice to individuals who are close contacts (whether household or in the workplace) includes:
- Be alert for Covid symptoms;
- Avoid close contact with vulnerable persons;
- If develop Covid symptoms, do LFD and isolate if test;
- Do not visit hospitals / other health & care settings.
Organisations should again note that if the person is identified as a close contact, there is no longer any distinction in the rules that apply to the vaccinated or unvaccinated.