STA, 21 January 2022 - The self-isolation time frame will be cut from at least ten to seven days in Slovenia from Monday, health officials said on Friday. This will apply to most of infected people, provided they will not have fever or any other Covid symptoms 24 hours before the end of self-isolation and will test negative on the seventh day.
Self-isolation will be reduced for all people infected with coronavirus, except for those with weakened immune systems or those with a severe Covid-19 who are in need of hospital treatment, infectologist Janez Tomažič told a Covid press briefing.
If a person will have fever on the sixth day of self-isolation or show any other Covid symptoms, then the self-isolation period will be extended.
Moreover, self-isolation will end after seven days if the person's rapid test comes back negative on the seventh day. The test will have to be performed at an approved testing provider, meaning self-tests will not suffice.
If the rapid antigen test is positive on the seventh day, the person keeps self-isolating and does another test the following day until the tenth day, when self-isolation ends in line with the regime so far.
To ensure that the new protocol is extra safe, the person will have to avoid socialising as much as possible for another three days after they stopped self-isolating, and use FFP2 or surgical face masks.
The updated regime will kick in on Monday and will also apply to those who will have been self-isolating before that day, said Mateja Logar, the head of the government's Covid advisory group.
An agreement with rapid testing providers will soon be made to set time slots for those wanting to get tested to end their self-isolation after seven full days.
For asymptomatic infected people, the self-isolation period starts on the day of the positive PCR test, whereas in the case of people with symptoms and a PCR confirmed infection, the first day of symptoms marks the start, she added.
In accordance with the rules of the European Covid pass, the issuance of a QR code for those who have recovered from Covid is possible from the eleventh day after a positive PCR test, so from the eighth through the tenth day since testing positive, people will not have a valid QR code.
The proposal to reduce self-isolation time was given by experts at the Infectious Diseases Department at the UKC Ljubljana medical centre, and was later endorsed by the advisory group.
This comes after calls for shortening self-isolation by business representatives who have been noting Covid-related staff shortages amid the Omicron wave.
"We know that the Omicron variant is highly infectious and that people who have been vaccinated or who have had Covid-19 are less safe than they were from previous variants. This is why the number of isolations and quarantines is increasing rapidly, crippling healthcare, education, the economy, the entire society," Tomažič said.
"By taking a pragmatic approach to reducing the duration of isolation and quarantine, we're adapting to the wishes to keep society functioning, while at the same time acknowledging the additional risk of human-to-human transmission," he added.
Logar meanwhile reiterated the distinction between self-isolation and quarantine, explaining that the former was to separate people who are ill with a contagious disease from people who are not ill, whereas the latter was to separate and restrict the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become ill or not.
Despite the slightly milder Covid-19 in most people infected with Omicron, the huge increase in infections could lead to an increase in the number of patients in the coming weeks, Logar warned.
Moreover, the high number of self-isolations and quarantines in the younger population could lead to problems in the functioning of public services and critical infrastructure. The advisory group is therefore not yet considering relaxing measures.
So far, self-isolation time has been at least ten days depending on the course of the disease.