Clarification has been sought around the isolation expectations of essential workers who show symptoms consistent with the suspect case definition of COVID-19, but test negative for it. Staff showing symptoms are eligible for immediate testing. Current protocol for suspect cases is that the individual, if they are well enough and have mild symptoms, should isolate at home for at least 10 days after symptom onset and until 48 hours after symptoms resolve.
The advice has been amended to recognise the serious potential resourcing impacts on some key services if individuals who have to isolate for 10 days.
The updated advice is that where a test is negative, the individual will only be required to remain at home for 48 hours providing they remain symptom-free for that period. They are not required to complete the longer 10-day stand down.
Please note that the 48 hours relates to when an individual is symptom free, not to the negative test. For example, if the negative test result comes back after 24 hours of being symptom free, individuals still have to wait for another 24 hours. If the negative test result takes a while to come back, they still have to wait for that negative test result, even if they have been symptom free for 72 hours.
National Health Coordination Centre
Ministry of Health