Date published: 
21 March 2020
Type: 
News
Intended audience: 
General public

Release from isolation – revised criteria

1. Confirmed cases with mild illness who did not require hospitalisation

The person can be released from isolation if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • at least 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms; and
  • there has been resolution of all symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours1

The person should be advised to continue to be diligent with hand hygiene and cough etiquette and practice social distancing, as is indicated for the rest of the community, as this will assist in reducing the influenza transmission.

2. Confirmed cases with more severe illness who have been discharged from hospital

If the person is ready clinically for hospital discharge, but has not had two consecutive swabs taken at least 24 hours apart which are negative for SARS-CoV-2 by PCR, then they should discharged to home isolation.

The person can be released from isolation if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • at least 10 days have passed since hospital discharge; and
  • there has been resolution of all symptoms of the acute illness for the previous 72 hours1

The person should be advised to continue to be diligent with hand hygiene and cough etiquette and practice social distancing, as is indicated for the rest of the community, as this will assist be reducing the influenza transmission.

3. All cases who have specimens taken at clinical recovery can be released from isolation if they meet the criteria below

Healthcare workers and workers in aged care facilities must meet the following criteria for release from isolation.

A confirmed case can be released from isolation if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • the person has been afebrile for the previous 48 hours;
  • resolution of the acute illness for the previous 24 hours1;
  • be at least 7 days after the onset of the acute illness;
  • PCR negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected 24 hours apart after the acute illness has resolved2,3 – this will be reviewed as the pandemic evolves in Australia.

 

Some people may have pre-existing illnesses with chronic respiratory signs or symptoms, such as chronic cough. For these people, the treating medical practitioner should make an assessment as to whether the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 have resolved.

If the patient has a productive cough due to a pre-existing respiratory illness or other ongoing lower respiratory tract disease, then the sputum or other lower respiratory tract specimens must be PCR negative for SARS-CoV-2. Otherwise upper respiratory tract specimens (nasopharyngeal or nose and throat swabs) must be PCR negative.

A small proportion of people may have an illness that has completely resolved but their respiratory specimens remain persistently PCR positive. A decision on release from isolation for these people should be made on a case-by-case basis after consultation between the person’s treating medical practitioner, the testing laboratory and public health.