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Isolation exemption for 'critical' asymptomatic NSW health workers

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Some asymptomatic New South Wales healthcare workers will be able to leave isolation to go to work even when classed as COVID-19 close contacts, the government has announced.

NSW Health said the exemption would apply in "exceptional circumstances" to some workers at public and private facilities "so these key services are not disrupted".

In a statement released late on New Year's Eve, the department said Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Friday signed an exemption to the Public Health Order to "minimise potential impacts on health services across the state".

READ MORE: National Cabinet scraps day six rapid test for COVID-19 cases

"The exemption allows these close contacts to leave self-isolation to attend their workplace, provided they have been identified by their employer as critical to the service and cannot work from home," the statement said. 

"Under the exemption, healthcare workers must travel directly to and from their residence to their workplace. 

"They are required to wear a mask at all times in their workplace, unless eating or drinking or providing services where it needs to be removed."

The exemption would be immediately revoked if the worker developed symptoms, requiring them to get a PCR test and stay home until it came back negative.

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A COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit

The new measure comes just days after the isolation period for healthcare professionals was halved to seven days as the number of furloughed workers hit 2000.

Most states and territories now allow close contacts to leave self-isolation after seven days provided they test negative on day six.

Symptomatic confirmed cases must take a PCR test on day six

Health workers granted an exemption would still have to comply with their employer's risk-management strategies, NSW Health said.



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