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'Minister must review world’s most inflexible iso rules' - David Seymour

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"New Zealand should dump the world’s strictest COVID-isolation rules, with no other jurisdiction requiring seven days mandatory isolation for cases and household contacts," says ACT Leader David Seymour.

"COVID-19 Response Minister Ayesha Verrall appeared on Newshub Nation this morning saying that she is getting advice on the isolation rules. Verral confirmed that she’d revisit both the length of time a contact has to isolate, and whether a close contact needs to isolate.

"ACT has been raising this issue for months, for example in our February policy paper Move On we called for Singapore-style rules of ‘72 hours and out with a negative test.’

"The impact of inflexible isolation rules on every sector of the economy has been dire. From hospitals to schools to businesses, labour shortages have left people struggling.

"The Minister should be asking, are the rules worth it, and are they self-defeating? Are they worth the cost of reducing COVID spread? Does their excessive strictness mean people just don’t test to avoid isolation?

"Unfortunately, we are in August, and the Minister is still seeking advice about whether rules that have been in place for six months are fit for purpose.

"One way the Minister might approach the issue is to ask what the rest of the world is doing. ACT cannot find any other country that has a seven day rule for cases and household contacts. We are leading the whole world or in last place, and it doesn’t feel like we’re leading right now.

Here is a selection of what other countries are doing:

"In Singapore you must isolate for 72 hours, then you are out when you test negative. Close contacts are advised to test for five days.

"In New South Wales, you have to isolate for seven days. Close Contacts must isolate and test, but only if symptomatic.

"In the U.S. the CDC recommends five days of isolation for cases and contacts, however if contacts have up to date vaccination they are not recommended to isolate at all.

"In the U.K. you are instructed to ‘try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days’ and if you’re a close contact ‘avoid contact with the person who has COVID-19 as much as you can,’ among other voluntary measures.

"In Taiwan, a person is asked to isolate for seven days if they test positive, and three days for a household contact, unless a household contact is boosted in which case they don’t need to isolate at all.

"In the Canadian Province of Alberta, cases are recommended, but not required, to isolate for five days, and contacts are asked to monitor symptoms."

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