Covid and isolation: new rules to come soon for positive cases and contact cases

Published by Caroline J. · Published on 28 December 2021 at 10h34
To date, people who have been in touch with someone infected with the Omicron variant must self-isolate for seven days, or even 17 days if they live in the same place. Following the latest health defense council, Jean Castex announced the self-isolation period for Covid-19 positive cases and contact cases will change soon. These new isolation rules are to be announced by the end of the week by the French government.

As the new contamination toll is skyrocketing in France because of the 5th wave and the Omicron variant, many people are wondering what they have to do in the event there are a contact case. The Assurance Maladie reminds on their website the guidelines people considered as contact cases have to comply with. On that matter, the government changed the rules this past December 13 and extended the compulsory self-isolation period because of the Omicron variant. Therefore, if someone is a contact case of someone infected by the Omicron variant within the same home, then the isolation period is of 17 days, against 7 for people not living under the same roof. Careful though, note this self-isolation period is compulsory for non-vaccinated people, and vaccinees.

But, because of the high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, many French people – positive to Covid and contact cases – are now placed in quarantine. The Scientific Committee also fears a likely “disorganization of the society” in January.

Same call for Geneva’s Institute of Global Health (Switzerland) director Antoine Flahault. As he explains on Twitter, “This measure could get the country to its knees. Knowing on an average one person contaminates 10, with 100,000 cases per day, it leads to 1 million contact cases in quarantine for 7 to 17 days”.

As a new Health Defense Council has been held this Monday December 27, 2021, the government decided not to make immediate announcements to soften the rules of the isolation period for contact cases. The executive would rather wait for the latest studies on the Omicron variant before coming up with new rules likely to be announced by the end of the week.

"Omicron features will lead us - after concertation with health authorities - to adjust our doctrine about self-isolation period", the Prime Minister announced this December 27th. Therefore, the self-isolation period of positive cases and contact cases is to change and likely to be reduced.

For the record, other countries have decided to shorten the isolation period like in the United-Kingdom, badly hit by Omicron. Now, in the UK, people vaccinated who tested positive to Covid-19 must self-isolate for seven days instead of ten.

Current guidelines in the event you have been in touch with someone infected with Covid

The Assurance Maladie invites contact cases to immediately self-isolate (if vaccination is not complete or if one is immune-depressed). Vaccinees do not have to self-isolate. But, they have – like non-vaccinated people – comply with health guidelines, immediately take a screen test (RT-PCR or antigenic), and inform people they have met for the past 48 hours and recommend them to limit their social and family contacts. A second screen test (RT-PCR or antigenic) must be performed 7 days after the last contact with the sick, or 17 days after the onset of symptoms or sample if you live together.

But if you are the contact case of someone infected with the Omicron variant, then rules are stricter. Whether you are vaccinated or not, you must immediately self-isolate for 7 days if you have been in touch with someone infected with Omicron outside your home, or 17 days if the person infected with Omicron shares your home. Note this quarantine must start from the moment the person of your home’s result is positive.

Furthermore, “if you take an antigenic test (TAG) and the latter is positive, you must take an RT-PCR test to confirm it and identify the variant”, the Assurance Maladie says. After the 17-day isolation, you must take another test.

Please also note if you tested positive to Covid-19 – no matter the variant identified – you will be reached out by the Assurance Maladie and will have to self-isolate for ten days.

Practical information