FEARS about the spread of the newly-discovered Omicron COVID-19 variant has led Spanish health chiefs to toughen-up self-isolation rules for fully-vaccinated people.
The Ministry of Health says that fully-immunised people will have to quarantine for ten days if they have had contact with somebody infected by the Omicron variant.
That rule does not apply over other COVID variants.
Two Omicron cases have officially been confirmed in the Madrid area, with travelers coming in on separate flights from Amsterdam on the final leg of journeys originating in South Africa.
Two suspected cases are in quarantine in Barcelona, involving two people at El Prat airport, who also travelled in from South Africa.
Other cases have not yet been detected with sewage water analysis in the Catalunya region in late November picking up the new variant.
The new Health Ministry guideline says that even if a Omicron case is not confirmed, the very suspicion of it should lead any contacts to go into self-isolation.
A Ministry statement said: “Confirmation of the Omicron variant cannot be immediately determined, so this measure should also be applied to those cases in which there is suspicion either due to preliminary information through specific PCR tests or because the case is part of an outbreak that includes cases produced by these variants.”
The definition of ‘close contact’ with an infected person surrounds friends and relatives as well as in general, ‘any person who has been in the same place as a case, at a distance of less than two metres and for a period of time, which is a total accumulated time of more than 15 minutes over 24 hours.”
The Ministry added that quarantine must be at home and ‘preferably in a separate room from the rest of the household’ and that the affected person should leave the home at any time.