Five-day isolation for vaccinated workers: Gauci mum on relaxing quarantine period

Mater Dei health workers are allowed a five-day self-isolation period if they are vaccinated

Prof. Charmaine Gauci allowed vaccinated health workers in March 2021 to have a five-day self-isolation period
Prof. Charmaine Gauci allowed vaccinated health workers in March 2021 to have a five-day self-isolation period

The public health superintendence has ignored questions about a five-day self-isolation period accorded to vaccinated health workers who come in contact with positive COVID cases, as employers raise questions about extended public health restrictions.

Prof. Charmaine Gauci issued the order in March 2021 allowing essential workers at Mater Dei Hospital who come into contact with a person diagnosed as suffering from COVID-19 – but who have completed a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine – to submit to a five-day period of quarantine only, instead of the standard 14-day period, as long as they test negative after a PCR test on the fifth day following exposure.

A request for comment to Prof. Gauci through the health ministry’s spokesperson as to why the exception remains in force despite the wide vaccine coverage across the nation, went unanswered.

Prof. Gauci allows medical professionals at Mater Dei Hospital who are vaccinated, are asymptomatic, reside in a household where all members are asymptomatic, and not in domiciliary contact with any other individual known to be either positive for COVID-19, to self-isolate for only five days after obtaining a negative PCR test.

Earlier this week, Malta’s Chamber of Commerce hit out at blanket quarantine measures that were failing to distinguish between vaccinated and non-vaccinated people, calling them “totally unreasonable”.

The Chamber said that with more than 81% of the adult population fully vaccinated, it was unreasonable to put secondary contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases under a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

The organisation urged the health authorities to rethink the existing quarantine measures concerning fully vaccinated people.

Sounding a dire warning on the impact this is having on productivity, especially in work-places where remote working is not possible, the Chamber called for a more pragmatic approach.

Malta is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases that coincided with the lifting of travel restrictions. The health authorities subsequently introduced a 14-day quarantine period for unvaccinated travellers to Malta and shut English language schools.

The Chamber said it is aware of entire households of fully vaccinated people which have been put into 14-day mandatory quarantine because one of their children, who has already taken the first jab attends a summer school programme where a child has tested positive.

“If we really believe that vaccines break the chain of contagion, we need to be pragmatic and shouldn’t be placing fully vaccinated secondary contacts in quarantine,” Chamber President Marisa Xuereb said.

She noted that quarantine letters were being issued to all members of a household without specifying personal identification. “Clearly, no checks are being made on whether the members of that household are vaccinated or not.”