With COVID-19 Numbers On The Rise, Puerto Rico DOH Updates Quarantine And Isolation Guidelines

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The Puerto Rico Department of Health (PR DOH) has issued new Guidelines for Case Investigation and Contact Tracing for COVID-19 (Guidelines).
Puerto Rico Coronavirus (COVID-19)
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The Puerto Rico Department of Health (PR DOH) has issued new Guidelines for Case Investigation and Contact Tracing for COVID-19 (Guidelines). These provide updates to previously issued quarantine and isolation guidelines. With COVID-19 positivity rates nearing 30% on the Island, employers are struggling to maintain their operations while complying with PR DOH guidelines on quarantine and isolation. The following is a summary of the latest requirements.


We begin by recapping certain important definitions.

Close contact includes any person exposed to a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19, at a distance of less than 6 feet for at least 15 cumulative minutes in a 24-hour period.

Fully vaccinated is defined as follows, pursuant to applicable age groups:

Adults age 50 and older or immunocompromised individuals

Initial series of vaccination completed and, if eligible, second booster administered four months after the initial booster.

Adults age 18 and older

Initial series of Pfizer or Moderna or single dose of Janssen vaccines, as well as a vaccine booster if eligible.

Teenagers age 12 through 17

Initial series of Pfizer vaccine, as well as a vaccine booster if eligible.

Children age 5 through 11

Initial series of Pfizer vaccine.

With regards to the terms isolation and quarantine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides an easy distinction between both: quarantine keeps someone who might have been exposed to the virus away from others; isolation keeps someone who is infected with the virus away from others, even in their home. Thus, a person will need to quarantine when they suspect exposure to a transmittable disease, but once they confirm infection, isolation is required.


According to the Guidelines, the following are the four potential scenarios for COVID-19 isolation in Puerto Rico:

Fully vaccinated asymptomatic individuals

Isolation for five days after taking the sample indicating in a positive antigen or molecular test result and continue to wear a mask until the 10th day after taking the sample indicating the positive result.1

Fully vaccinated individuals with mild to moderate symptoms

Isolation for seven days after the onset of symptoms. These individuals should continue to wear a mask until the 10th day after symptom onset.

Individuals who are not fully vaccinated or are unvaccinated

Isolation for 10 days after onset of symptoms or receipt of a positive test result.

Individuals with severe symptoms, are immunocompromised, or during gestation period

The individual's healthcare providers will determine the duration of isolation.


The Guidelines provide the following quarantine guidelines in Puerto Rico2:

Fully vaccinated individuals

Exempt from quarantine requirements.

Non-fully vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals

Must quarantine for a period of five days.

These guidelines establish the minimum compliance; employers are free to adapt more restrictive or conservative measures in the workplace. It is important to remember that employers continue to have an obligation to notify the PR DOH immediately if a case of COVID-19 is identified in the workplace to initiate the investigation of cases and contact tracing. Employers must notify the PR DOH via email at: covidpatronos@salud.pr.gov using the Agency's form.


1. Employees, regardless of vaccination status, have a continuous obligation to monitor their symptoms prior to their return to work.

2. Employees, however, need to comply with additional testing and symptom monitoring even after a negative test result after the established quarantine period is completed.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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