Spain’s Inter-Territorial Council of the National Health System (CISNS) which is made up of the Ministry of Health and regional health ministers have unanimously agreed to reduce the Covid quarantine period from 10 to 7 days.
The announcement was made on Wednesday following a meeting with the new measure going against the recommendations of the Covid Vaccination Committee which advised against a reduction to the isolation period.
The new seven-day isolation period will apply to both vaccinated and unvaccinated people who test positive for Covid-19 as well as those who are unvaccinated and come into contact with a person who tests positive.
Those who are fully vaccinated will not need to quarantine when coming into contact with an infected person.
In a statement, health minister Carolina Darias (pictured) said that the country had unanimously agreed to adopt the shorter quarantine measure which would apply from Thursday, December 30.
“Today it was unanimously agreed, by all the people who are part of the Public Health Commission, to reduce the period of isolation of people with a positive active infection test to 7 days," she explained.
It means that hundreds of thousands of Spanish citizens who are currently infected with Covid-19 will be able to end their quarantine period earlier than expected.
A number of Spanish regions wanted to see the isolation period reduced further to only five days, but it was finally agreed that a seven day quarantine period would be the most suitable compromise.
Speaking just a few hours prior to the decision, the country’s Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez said that the country needed to strike “a balance” between public health, mental health and economic growth, although it was evident that the current situation was not as bad as the same period last year.
"We are more prepared and better protected because we have more than 90 per cent of the population vaccinated with the full schedule and 80 per cent of people over 80 years of age with the booster dose,” he said.
The question many experts were asking prior to the new measures was “when does a person stop infecting others”?
José María Molero, spokesperson for infectious diseases at SemFYC told 20minutos, there is no definite time, although with the variants prior to Omicron, including Delta, everything indicates that above "seven days it was no longer contagious."
“With Omicron it is not known, so the decision has not been based on scientific studies that show what the period of contagion is. It has been based on the fact that the clinical evolution of the patients is actually shorter than before."
In this sense, everything seems to indicate that "the duration of symptoms in those who are not vaccinated is probably close to a week, although the cough, fatigue and weakness may last two or four more weeks, while in those vaccinated it is true that above after four or five days, almost all the symptoms have disappeared, although the cough may persist".
Current Situation In Spain
It comes as the latest published figures released by Spain's Ministry of Health on Wednesday showed that the country had registered its highest daily number of infections with 100,760 cases.
The 14-day cumulative incidence rate has also rocketed in recent days and now stands at 1,508 per 100,000, more than double the figure recorded just a week ago.
A further 78 deaths were added to the country’s official figures bringing the total since the pandemic began to 89,331.
Image Credit: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa