Greece follows US lead in halving coronavirus quarantine

Move reflects judgment call that new Omicron variant is mild enough to allow people to return to work sooner.

Greece follows US lead in halving coronavirus quarantine

ATHENS — Greece has reduced quarantine for coronavirus patients to five days from 10, as new infections skyrocket.

The step follows the U.S. lead in halving to five days isolation for people who test positive for coronavirus but show no symptoms, and reflects a judgment call that the newly dominant Omicron variant is, in many cases, mild enough to allow people who catch it to get back to work sooner.

Spain said on Wednesday it was reducing quarantine for positive cases to seven days from 10, while Italy has scrapped quarantine for people who are vaccinated and who come into contact with a person who has caught COVID-19. Governments say the move should avert mass staff absences due to illness at hospitals and other essential services.

Greece followed the new guideline set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on the advice of its own committee of health experts, after the country of 11 million set its fourth consecutive daily record of 35,580 cases on Thursday — up fivefold from a week ago.

“The evidence we have from Omicron is encouraging,” Health Minister Thanos Plevris told local TV.

According to the new quarantine and isolation guidance by Greece’s public health agency, people infected with COVID can return to work after five days if they have no or mild symptoms. They must wear high protection masks.

“This is expected to also help ease possible pressure on the public services in the coming days, due to the higher number of infections,” a senior government official said.

Health care personnel that have been in contact with COVID patients, and have been triple vaccinated, will have to continue work with a mandatory PCR test on the third day after exposure. Those with two doses will have to take a PCR test on the first, third, fifth and seventh day after exposure.

For the general public, those who come into contact with a confirmed case will have to quarantine for five days and then get tested. Quarantine is not required for those who have already received a booster shot.