Fraction too much fiction in current quarantine arrangements for schools | AMA (WA)

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Fraction too much fiction in current quarantine arrangements for schools

Friday February 4, 2022

Australian Medical Association (WA)

The AMA (WA) is calling for the quarantine period for school close contacts (those that have been face to face or in the same classroom) to be reduced from 14 to seven days.

International evidence shows that there is less than a 1 per cent chance of someone returning a positive COVID-19 test in the second week of quarantine. This is based on the Delta variant, but as the incubation for Omicron is even shorter, the chance of a positive result in the second week is even less.

It is clear, and in our view appropriate, that the WA Government is no longer pursuing a ‘zero’ COVID policy. This is evidenced by the lack of current low-level restrictions, despite there being sustained community spread, with multiple schools and mines closed, and mystery cases.

In the current low-testing and high-vaccination environment, where there a higher chance of asymptomatic COVID, it is likely that there is a lot more COVID out there than testing is showing.

There has not been a single case in Western Australia of a contact quarantine patient returning a positive COVID test in their second week of isolation.

For quarantine with entry and exit testing, day six is the best for exit testing in the asymptomatic patient.

The AMA (WA) is concerned that the Premier is not following the Chief Health Officer’s (CHO) advice, as there is little or no medical evidence to support the current quarantine regime.

Intrinsic in these protocols is the need for access to rapid antigen tests (RATs). The AMA (WA) calls on the State Government to provide free RATs for schools, including students and staff.

As schooling is still required for isolating children during any quarantine period, we also call for the development of protocols to facilitate hybrid learning.

Comments attributed to AMA (WA) President Dr Mark Duncan-Smith:

“We can find no justifiable evidence-based reason, from an infection control and public health point of view, for the second week of quarantine for children. It is doing harm to schooling and socialising, and taking parents out of the workforce.”

“The AMA (WA) again calls on the Government to allow the CHO to be present at media conferences to allow him to answer questions directly, in the interests of transparency. Just because someone talks to someone regularly, does not mean that you are taking their advice.”

“Free RATs in school settings seems to be a fair and reasonable way of spending part of our State’s multi-billion-dollar surplus, to keep our children safe and educated.”


Please contact AMA (WA) Media via email for further information on this issue.