Ireland has become the latest EU country to cut the isolation period for many people who contract Covid-19 as record infection numbers spark fears of crippling staff shortages in essential public services and the retail and hospitality sectors.
The Irish government on Friday cut the isolation period to seven days from 10 for people who have tested positive but received a booster vaccine or been infected within the previous three months.
Spain, Portugal and Greece reduced isolation times this week, while others, such as Germany and France, are considering doing so and Italy cut its quarantine for fully vaccinated people who come into contact with someone who has tested positive.
The World Health Organisation has described the decisions to cut isolation and quarantine periods as part of a delicate balancing act between controlling the transmission of the virus and keeping national economies up and running.
“It is a trade-off between the science and being absolutely perfect in what you try to do, but then having the minimal disruption you can possibly have,” Michael Ryan, the WHO emergencies director, said. “Governments are struggling to find that balance.”