The timeframe for mandatory self-isolation will soon drop to a week as the Omicron outbreak grows.

Starting from Saturday, people who test positive to COVID-19 – and their household – will have to isolate for a seven-day period, down from 10 days.

COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins said that if others within the home develop symptoms they should get tested (in addition to their three and seven day tests) and isolate if positive for a further seven days from that test.

Recovered cases won’t need to self-isolate if they become a household contact within 90 days – an increase from the current 28 days – after having the virus, Hipkins said.

“We’ve looked at the international evidence really closely, the vast majority of infections are picked up within the first seven days.

“And increasing evidence that people are most likely to transmit the virus earlier in their infectious period.

“This evidence also shows that the risk of reinfection within the first three months after someone has Omicron is very low,” said Hipkins.

He said decisions on changes to the Red setting could be regional, but deciding when to change from Red to Orange will be a bit “more nuanced than a simple cases go down so therefore we start thinking about removing” restrictions.

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