SPECIAL ON COVID-19

Everything you need to know

Isolation, quarantine and close contacts: what they are and what you should do


Isolation concerns the cases that result positive to the diagnostic test and are therefore infected and aims to separate them from other people for the entire duration of their contagiousness. Instead quarantine concerns the close contacts of a confirmed case who are liable to develop an infection and who, for this very reason, must not come into close contact with other people. This is what is specified in the Circular letter of 12 October 2020 by the Minister of Health which lays down the criteria for the duration of the period of isolation or quarantine:

  • Asymptomatic people testing positive, namely the people who tested positive but are without symptoms. Following a minimum 10-day isolation after testing positive, they have to submit to a molecular test (swab) that must result negative (10 days + test) before being able to go out.  
  • Symptomatic people testing positive, namely the people who have tested positive and have symptoms. They can end their minimum 10-day isolation from the onset of symptoms after testing negative following a minimum period of 3 days without symptoms (10 days, at least 3 of which without symptoms + test).
  • Persistently positive patients, refers to the people who continue to result positive to the molecular swab test for weeks. They can suspend their 21-day isolation from the onset of symptoms also without testing negative, as long as they are free from symptoms for at least one week.
  • Asymptomatic close contacts, refers to people in close contact with confirmed cases. These people must go on a 14-day quarantine from the last day that they were in contact with the patient, without having to submit to a swab test, or 10 days from the last exposure but after testing negative to an antigenic or molecular test administered on the 10th day. 
  • Symptomatic close contacts, in this case, it is advisable to immediately turn to the general practitioner for an evaluation of the situation and on the need to take a test.
  • No quarantine and no test is prescribed for the close contacts of the close contacts of a positive case, intending thereby those people who have not come into direct contact with the confirmed case.

A general rule to follow is not to go to an Emergency Department but to the general practitioner for advice, to prescribe a test and symptomatic relief medication and fulfil bureaucratic obligations.