Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has announced a new set of COVID-19 Quarantine guidelines to break the Coronavirus transmission chain.
Article at a glance:
- The new guideline mandates all contacts to COVID-19 cases to isolate for ten days
- Asymptomatic patients can have a false-negative result if the test is taken before the fifth day of infection
- COVID-19 patients with critical, severe, or moderate symptoms are still required to isolate for 14 days
On Tuesday, 5th January 2020, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) issued a revised COVID-19 management guideline. Earlier, the length of Quarantine was 14 days. However, according to the new set of guidelines, close contacts to COVID-19 cases that are yet to develop symptoms will have to isolate for ten days. However, the 14 days quarantine will still apply to COVID-19 patients that are either critically, severe, or moderately ill.
Definition of close contacts
According to the DHA revised regulations on COVID-19 Quarantine, close contact is anyone that has been in contact with a COVID-19 case two days prior to the onset of illness or return of a positive swab sample up until 14 days after. By contact, DHA mean;
- People that have been within 2 meters of a positive COVID-19 case for over 15 minutes.
- Anyone that has been in physical contact with a positive COVID-19 case.
- People that share the same house with COVID-19 Patient.
- Healthcare providers attending to COVID-19 patients without the right personal protective equipment (PPE).
The DHA specifies that all contacts must quarantine at home for ten days after last exposure. This self-isolation is compulsory even if they have been tested before, and the result came out negative. Also, contacts that develop any COVID-19-related symptoms must be tested again for the virus.
The implications of the new update
COVID-19 can only spread from one host to another when there is contact. Therefore, the DHA’s move will help confine the virus to a single host throughout the duration of its short lifespan.
Meanwhile, the CDC referred to a publication in the Lancet Microbes that says isolated viruses do not live beyond day nine of symptoms. This has been found to be true for patients with a high viral load. Therefore, COVID-19 may not be infectious after nine days. Reacting to the new guideline, Dr. Shahjahan PA, Specialist Internal Medicine at Aster Clinic, Qusais said “Quarantine and isolation help to distant the carrier from healthy people. This helps to cut down the rate of spread of the disease. The period of isolation keeps the infectious virus in confinement throughout its lifespan. According to recent studies, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has a short lifespan. The move by the DHA is excellent in reducing the transmission risk.”
Dr. Atul Aundhekar shares a similar sentiment with Dr. Shahjahan. Dr. Aundhekar, who is the COO of Avivo Health Care Group and has been closely learning the pandemic, has this to say, “The isolation of close contacts for ten days is crucial for stopping the transmission of the virus. It builds on the idea and aim of the community lockdowns to break the chain of infection.”
Insights into incubation and virulence of the Coronavirus
The more we know about COVID-19, the easier it will be to fight the spread. According to Dr. Shahjahan, “the incubation period for SARS COV-2 virus can be anything between 0 – 6 days”. This means that for a mildly positive person with a low viral load, a test after a few days of contact can give a false-negative result. However, as the viral load goes up on the fifth day, the person may become symptomatic or show mild symptoms. This is why the ten days self-isolation period is important.”
Viruses are more active in chiller climates. With the dawn of the winter months and the new UK variant’s discovery that is 70% more virulent, more actions are needed to stop the spread. In the first four days after coming into contact with a positive COVID-19 case, a person may be in the ‘pre-symptomatic’ stage or present sub-clinical symptoms making it hard to identify. According to Dr. Aundhekar, “If we can strictly adhere to the 10-day quarantine rule, we will be certain that the carrier will not transfer the disease to another person regardless of whether they asymptomatic on the fifth day.”