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Our take: Did government just cancel covid-19?

This week the government dramatically eased rules around quarantine and isolation. Previously, you had to isolate for 14 days and monitor your symptoms if you had knowingly been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. 

Now, if you test positive and you’re symptom-free, you don’t have to isolate at all! 😯 If you do have symptoms, particularly a cough and a fever, then you must isolate for just seven days. It seems we’re finally starting to see the light at the end of the dark Covid tunnel. 

But why the shift? There are several factors, as public health expert Professor Mosa Moshabela pointed out in an illuminating Twitter thread:

🔹Immunity is on the up. We know that Covid antibodies don’t last very long but as Moshabela points out: “[A]lthough there’s waning of antibodies, the cellular arm of the immune system is durable, and will protect people from severe disease and death.” 

🔹Many health workers were forced to isolate every time they were infected even if they were fit to work; colleagues they’d interacted with had to quarantine. This depletion of the health workforce created a bit of a crisis. 

🔹Investment into isolation and quarantine infrastructure and services cost the government a pretty penny but didn’t yield proportional results. 

Essentially, it didn’t make sense to spend so much taxpayer money AND deplete the workforce, when all the data showed that symptoms were becoming milder. 

There’s a global push to ease rulings. This week, Denmark was the first European Union country to scrap all its Covid-19 measures: nightclubs are open, late-night alcohol sales have resumed and Danes no longer have to wear masks. 😮‍💨 Norway is following suit. 

But Covid is NOT quite cancelled for those who are vulnerable. Plus it can still deeply affect those who are otherwise healthy – and long Covid is no joke. As Moshabela puts it: “Personally, if I took a screening rapid test and found that I have Covid-19 but I’m asymptomatic, I’d still like to protect all my contacts by isolating at no cost to the government. I’d still like to notify all my contacts, so they can observe their symptoms as well.✌🏿” 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 3 February 2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.