The Netherlands is scrapping the remaining coronavirus rules next week, but the recommendations to self-isolate if you test positive remain, the health ministry has confirmed.
Currently, if you test positive for coronavirus you should stay home and self-isolate for a minimum of five days. After 24 hours without any symptoms you can leave isolation.
‘Self-isolation is an urgent recommendation, not a legal obligation,’ a health board spokesman told Dutch News. ‘However, as an individual, please consider the fact that coronavirus is very contagious and self-isolation helps to prevent the people around you from becoming infected.’
Experts do not expect the government to ditch the self-isolation and quarantine rules in the near future, because of their role in containing the virus.
‘We don’t know how things will work out in the future and coronavirus is not yet part of the normal winter viruses,’ said virologist and government health advisor Marion Koopmans. During the transition period, it is important to keep testing, and to stay home if you are infected, she said.
Alma Tostmann, an epidemiologist at Radboudumc teaching hospital, told broadcaster NOS that it is still too soon to ditch the self-isolation rules.
‘I think you should wait at least until this infection wave is over and everyone over the age of 70 has had an extra booster,’ she said. ‘We also want to be sure that pressure on the healthcare system does not increase, because we are still having to cancel treatment and have catching up to do.’
Quarantine differs from self-isolation in that it is something you are recommended to do if there is a risk you may be infected.
At the moment, if someone you live with or a close contact has coronavirus but you have no symptoms, you do not need to self-quarantine, as long as you are fully vaccinated or recently had coronavirus yourself.
Koopmans also said that the introduction of self-isolation could have an impact on the way we deal with other viruses. ‘Who are you helping if you walk around with flu and infect vulnerable people?’ she said. ‘It is not up to me, but this is a discussion that I think we should have.’
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