Queensland’s new COVID-19 guidelines do not require people to get tested or quarantine 12 weeks after recovery
Like many Queenslanders, Sophie Griffin is back in isolation with COVID-19 for the second time.
- The changes came into effect on March 28 to align with national guidelines
- Experts say it’s “highly unlikely” to catch COVID-19 twice in 12 weeks
- Associate Professor Lara Herrero says the best guide is to stay home if you’re feeling unwell
The Brisbane resident first tested positive in January and recently tested positive again after less than three months since leaving isolation.
As of this week, Queensland Health has introduced new guidelines where, after completing seven days of isolation, positive COVID-19 cases do not have to be tested or to quarantine for 12 weeks, even if they develop symptoms.
The directions were previously four weeks, but were updated on March 28, to align with the COVID-19 CDNA National Guidelines for Public Health Units’ standards.
Ms Griffin suspected she had COVID-19 for the second time after developing symptoms.
“I just had head congestion, and I just felt really weak. And I was like, ‘I reckon this is COVID again’,” she said.
Mr Griffin’s suspicions were confirmed after her PCR test came back positive.
She said this time around her symptoms were more intense.
“The first time, like, I was always tired, but I could stay awake, and I could do some things but, at the moment, I just feel like my eyes are hanging out my head and like I haven’t slept in a week,” she said.
Ms Griffin remains hopeful she doesn’t get COVID-19 again, but isn’t ruling out the possibility.
Griffith University Associate Professor Lara Herrero said it was not uncommon to have COVID-19 more than once but, based on data, it was “highly unlikely” to be reinfected within a “12-week window”.
“It’s been put to 12 weeks because data is suggesting that, if you have COVID-19, your natural immunity that you get from having the virus should last about 12 weeks,” she said.
“In some cases, [it will be] lasting longer, but that’s the safe window that science is now suggesting.”
Dr Herrero said the new guidelines had been adapted to the latest information that researchers have learned about the virus.
However, she said, studies into COVID-19 BA.2 Omicron sub-variant’s “safe window” were still ongoing.
So, what are the new guidelines?
After completing seven full days of isolation, you are free to return to your normal activities if you no longer have any symptoms.
However, for the first seven days after isolation, you must wear a face mask whenever you are indoors or if you cannot socially distance outdoors.
It is also advised that you avoid visiting settings such as aged care, disability care, prisons, GPs and hospitals.
In the first 12 weeks after ending isolation, you do not need to get tested if you develop COVID-19 symptoms.
And, if someone in your home gets COVID-19, you do not need to get tested nor to quarantine because you are not considered a close contact.
However, if you develop symptoms after 12 weeks, you will be required to get tested and to follow the isolation rules again.
Dr Herrero warns that, even if you are still in the “12-week window”, to stay home if you are unwell and continue taking preventive measures.
“Always use common sense and, if you have symptoms, don’t forget there are other viruses out there that cause similar symptoms to COVID,” she said.
“I would still be doing all your public health measures just to make sure you minimise the chance that you yourself get infected.”
Dr Herrero said it was still important to monitor symptoms, even if you think you are in the clear.
“It really comes down to symptoms more than the test,” she said.