At present, week-long isolation is mandatory for those who test positive for coronavirus. Photo credit:Freepik.

Brno, Nov 12 (CTK) – COVID-19 could soon be removed from the list of diseases requiring compulsory isolation, Czech Health Minister Vlastimil Valek (TOP 09) told journalists on Saturday, speculating that this might happen in the first half of 2023.

Nevertheless, the decision will be based on the recommendation of experts, Valek told the media after addressing the Czech Medical Chamber (CLK) congress in Brno.

At present, week-long isolation is mandatory for those who test positive for coronavirus.

“This is not an issue for politicians to decide, it is a matter for experts,” said Valek. “We have the institute for tackling pandemics, which should give a clear recommendation. As soon as the recommendation is given, COVID will be deleted from the list of those diseases that require the patient’s isolation.”

This could happen in the first half of next year if the currently prevailing Omicron variant does not mutate further, and if the current sub-mutations remain weak.

“I would be personally happy if this happened as quickly as possible,” Valek said.

Epidemiologist Rastislav Madar recently spoke about the debate among experts on whether isolation should still be required in the case of COVID-19, and how long it should be. He said an international debate on this topic is to start next spring.

Madar also stressed that the step will be conditional on the absence of any new, more dangerous variant of the virus.

The Czech Republic cannot decide unilaterally that it will no longer require isolation of those infected, as this could cause problems, such as for travelling to and from the country.

Valek expressed a similar opinion today. “We have been monitoring the situation very intensively, and I have tasked an official at the Health Ministry to check it regularly. Maybe it will be us who will take up the issue and propose this step,” said Valek.

The possible removal of COVID-19 from the list of diseases requiring isolation has been welcomed by the head of the General Practitioners’ Association, Petr Sonka. “This is OK. The time has definitely come to start discussing it and changing our approach to the disease. We definitely would not be the first country in Europe to make the change,” Sonka told CTK.

Czech Medical Chamber spokesman Michal Sojka said it was a matter for experts and depended on when the decision was made. “We don’t know what the epidemiological situation will be at the time and what variant of the virus will prevail…, whether a new variant will emerge that would be more contagious and dangerous at the same time,” Sojka said.

“In the current epidemiological situation, with a minimum of cases of a serious course of the disease, it is no problem. It is a path to be taken, but it is necessary that it is recommended by experts,” Sojka told CTK.

The current prevailing variant of coronavirus, Omicron, does not have as serious a course in most people as the original variant, but is much more contagious.

Since late June, the Czech Republic has seen two mild COVID waves, with the maximum daily numbers of newly detected infections reaching about 4,700 and the maximum number of COVID hospitalizations just under 2,000.

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