NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has ditched isolation for close contacts in a huge change to Covid quarantine rules, which he now wants to see adopted nationwide. 

NSW Health officials have scrapped the seven-day isolation period rule for most close contacts as the state recorded 11,201 new infections and three deaths.

Under the sweeping new changes, priority testing will be given to ‘clinically urgent’ patients – with people lining up for a tourism test ordered to ‘Get out the queue!’ 

Only ‘a small number’ of exposed people – such as healthcare workers – will now be ordered into self-isolation after a close contact with someone who has tested positive.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) has ditched isolation for close contacts in a huge change to Covid quarantine rules

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) has ditched isolation for close contacts in a huge change to Covid quarantine rules

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet (pictured) has ditched isolation for close contacts in a huge change to Covid quarantine rules

‘People who have been confirmed as Covid-19 cases are asked to tell those they have recently spent time with that they have tested positive,’ a NSW Health statement said.

‘NSW Health will only contact a small number of exposed people to direct them into self-isolation under the public health order.’

Anyone else who has been in close contact with a confirmed Covid case will now only be expected to go into isolation until they get a negative test.

The NSW Health statement adds: ‘When the negative test result is received, they can leave isolation.’ 

Contacts are expected to continue to monitor for symptoms and get re-tested if they start to feel ill.  

‘NSW Health asks that they continue to be aware of any developing Covid-19 symptoms,’ said NSW Health. 

‘If symptoms do later appear, people are asked to immediately seek a PCR test, and isolate until a negative test is received.’ 

However even if contacts have no symptoms, they are still being urged by NSW Health to take a rapid antigen test before mixing with others. 

The new advice comes as Covid case numbers almost doubled overnight from 6,062 on Tuesday to 11,201 on Wednesday, with 625 in hospital, 61 in ICU, and three more deaths.   

Premier Perrottet says he will be raising the issue of isolation periods at Thursday’s emergency national cabinet meeting to implement the NSW rules across Australia. 

‘I certainly believe it would be best if we had a national approach,’ he said. ‘And I certainly look forward to having those discussions tomorrow.’ 

The premier apologised for the current testing debacle which is seeing some results take five days or more to come back, while others are waiting hours to be swabbed.

‘We apologise for any inconvenience with those long queues,’ said Mr Perrottet on Wednesday. ‘I know there are substantial efforts have been that have been made. 

‘Rest assured we are doing everything we can to put downward pressure on those queues at right across right across the state. The system will improve.’

He hailed Queensland’s decision to relax their border restrictions and allow rapid antigen test results for travellers entering the state instead of PCR tests, which had helped clog up the testing system.

‘If you are traveling to Queensland from January 1, there is no reason and no need and you should not be in any of those queues for PCR testing,’ the premier said. 

‘There are many people who are lining up in those queues who do not need to be there. You’re taking the place of somebody who needs to receive one of those PCR tests.’

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard added: ‘If you’re in a queue right now, get out of the queue. You don’t need to be there.’

More to follow

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