The Philippines is experiencing another surge in COVID-19 infections as cases believed to be driven by the more transmissible Omicron variant. With daily cases reaching record highs, more people need to take precautions and isolate themselves if necessary.
The Department of Health has issued guidelines on isolation and quarantine for the general population and for healthcare workers who may be exposed to COVID-19 cases, with varying periods of isolation depending on the individual situation.
Here's what you need to know about isolation and quarantine as the government remains on guard against the Omicron variant:
Isolation vs. quarantine
Although these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, the difference lies on whether a person has acquired or is only exposed to COVID-19.
According to the DOH, isolation is for people who have been infected and tested positive COVID-19, regardless if they exhibit symptoms or of their vaccination status.
Quarantine, meanwhile, is for people who have been exposed and can possibly develop COVID-19 infection. These include close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
How long should you isolate?
If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are asymptomatic or developed mild to moderate symptoms, isolate for 10 days or at the advice of your doctor regardless if you are fully vaccinated, incompletely vaccinated, or unvaccinated.
If you have severe and critical symptoms, isolate for 21 days or at the advice of your doctor regardless of your vaccination status.
If you are a fully vaccinated healthcare worker who tested positive for COVID-19 with mild to moderate symptoms or none at all, your isolation period may be shortened to five days from the current protocol of 10 days, subject to the assessment of your hospital's infection prevention and control committee or the provincial health office.
How long should you quarantine?
If you are a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, quarantine for seven days or at the advice of your doctor if you are fully vaccinated.
If you have not completed your vaccination or have not received a vaccine at all, quarantine for 14 days or at the advice of your doctor.
For fully-vaccinated healthcare workers who are close contacts of COVID-19 patients, the current protocol is to quarantine for seven days. But there may be no need to quarantine at all if it was determined by the hospital's infection prevention and control committee or the provincial health office.
The shortened duration for isolation and quarantine for fully-vaccinated health workers is in consideration of their healthcare capacity, following the interim guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
The DOH reminded the public to isolate immediately if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. This means they should stay in their rooms or isolation facility, wear masks at all times, and avoid sharing meals with their family.