Omicron insulation to reduce for close contact

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Japan’s health minister said the isolation period for people who have been in close contact with people infected with the Omicron variant will be reduced to 10 days from the current 14 days.

Goto Shigeyuki announced the plan when he spoke to reporters on Friday after discussing the issue with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. Goto cited the need to ensure society can function.

Currently, those designated as close contacts are required to self-isolate for 14 days in accommodation facilities or at their homes.

Goto also said local governments will be able to make their own decisions about when the isolation period ends for medical workers and essential workers, including police and firefighters.

He also mentioned the conditions provided for lifting the self-isolation of these workers. The protocol will require workers to be PCR or quantitative antigen test negative on the sixth day from the last day of close contact with infected individuals, or to be qualitative antigen test negative consecutively on the sixth and seventh day. .

The minister also said that authorities in municipalities that see progress in Omicron replacing the Delta variant will be allowed to treat all infected people as those infected with Omicron. In such a case, municipalities will be allowed to waive the genome analysis that applies to people infected with variants other than Delta.

The government’s decision came a day after a Health Ministry expert panel proposed a shorter isolation period on Thursday. Experts have stated that the incubation period of Omicron is shorter than that of previous variants.

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