Pandemic
Society 10/07/2021

Close contacts of vaccinated, symptom-free positive cases do not have to self-isolate

Nor will any diagnostic test be done to check if they have been infected

2 min
Vaccination of two people in the space installed at the Fira de Barcelona

BarcelonaNew change in the fight against the covid-19 pandemic. From now on, close contacts of people who have been infected but have already received two doses of the vaccine (or one in the case of Janssen) will not have to self-isolate, as long as they do not have symptoms. In addition, they will not undergo any diagnostic test, according to the new update of the health care protocol, which this time has taken more into account the new delta variant. It should be remembered that close contacts are considered to be people who have shared space with a positive covid-19 case less than 2 meters away from each other, for more than 15 minutes without protection. The change of criterion, which values the protection offered by the vaccine, has divided experts. Internist Oriol Mitjà has applauded this easing of restrictions on vaccinated people, since "they are much less likely to be carriers of the virus" and "even when infected they have less viral load, fewer symptoms and transmit the infection much less". On the other hand, researcher Salvador Macip considers that to get as close as possible to "zero risk it would be better to self-isolate" and recalls that he, who has already received the two doses, has ended up getting infected.

The complete vaccination regimen greatly reduces the chances of becoming infected, but the effectiveness is not 100%. Depending on the person and also on the vaccine, protection can be more or less effective.

Another change in the protocol is that there will no longer be as many diagnostic tests for close contacts, unless health officials deem it necessary. The Health Minister, Josep Maria Argimon, announced yesterday at dusk that it will be very complicated to carry out massive screenings such as those of last summer and autumn, and defended making only "very selective" ones. Argimon said that for the department it is a priority to visit symptomatic cases and maintain the good pace of vaccination, and concluded: "We have the hands we have".

Thus, there will also be no systematic telephone follow-up to close contacts, so that they will not receive any calls except when deemed necessary. Unvaccinated people (or those with the incomplete vaccination regimen) and asymptomatic close contacts will still have to self-isolate for 10 days, while fully-vaccinated close contacts with a complete vaccination regimen will not have to do so. If there are no symptoms, there will be no "routine care by the health system".

Close contacts will know that they are close contacts because they will receive an SMS on their mobile phone. And it is from the link in that message that they will be able to contact health professionals. Even so, people who self-declare as close contacts and go to their primary care team without having received the SMS will be attended by a covid manager who will assess whether the person is close contact or not, and will explain whether it is necessary to self-isolate - or not.

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