NSW COVID vaccine recipients won’t be identified as close contacts after virus exposure

Close contacts presently need to isolate for at least 14 days after seeing someone infected with COVID-19, even if vaccinated or feeling well.

But the latest protocols suggest specific risk assessment by NSW Health may still be needed at transmission sites, where people are in close proximity for long periods such as food processing facilities and production lines or in locations where people are more likely to generate aerosols.

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“In these circumstances, contacts (including those who are fully vaccinated), may be assessed as higher risk than they would be under the general guidance, and it is recommended that businesses seek advice from NSW Health,” the document states.

The guidelines suggest a more cautious approach to household or “household-like” contacts, contacts in schools, healthcare, aged care, correctional centres or other settings where “cases and contacts interact frequently with people at high risk of severe illness”.

Under the guidelines casual contacts who have a rapid antigen test each day for two weeks after their last exposure to an infectious case are not required to have PCR tests or self-isolate.

The document also outlines that those fully inoculated will in most cases be deemed “low risk” when exposed to an infectious person regardless of indoor venue size.

Ms Berejiklian also hinted that the state government was considering easing further restrictions once the state hits 80 per cent full vaccination.

The Premier cited the opening of indoor pools as one item being considered to be brought forward from the December 1 opening to the 80 per cent mark, which the state is expected to hit in late October.

“They won’t be major things, but there will be tweaks,” Ms Berejiklian said.

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“There are a number of people in the community who have asked us to consider certain things, and Health is considering those things, and if it’s safe to do so we’ll be able to resume some of those activities at 80 per cent, as opposed to December 1.”

NSW reported 941 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths on Thursday. There are 1090 people with COVID-19 in hospitals, with 213 in intensive care and 105 of whom require ventilation.

Earlier this month the state government flagged it would significantly scale down its contact tracing as COVID-19 vaccination rates rise, instead relying on people being alerted via their smartphones when they have been at a venue of concern.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Thursday also confirmed his state would go it alone with JobSaver payments as the federal government prepares to withdraw its support once 80 per cent of NSW is fully vaccinated. The extension of NSW support to November 30 is expected to cost the state $500 million.

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