WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- People with asymptomatic COVID-19 cases can isolate for just five days, the CDC said Monday.
- Many disease experts had already recommended a shortened isolation period before the announcement.
- Some experts say isolation rules should have testing strategies and account for vaccination status.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it’s cutting its recommended isolation period for people infected with COVID-19 from 10 to five days. This applies to people who are asymptomatic.
The recommendation applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status, the agency said Monday. Mask wearing is also recommended for another five days after the five days are up, especially around other people.
The CDC added it is shortening the recommended quarantine to five days for people who are unvaccinated or vaccinated but not boosted if they are exposed.
For people who are vaccinated and boosted, CDC said there’s no need to quarantine.
Isolation is the recommended course of action when someone tests positive for COVID-19, while quarantine is suggested for a healthy person with exposure to someone who tested positive.
CDC said the change was driven by science showing that the majority of virus transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the first two days prior to the onset of symptoms and the two to three days after.
For anyone exposed to the virus, CDC said the best practice would also include a coronavirus test five days after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.
“This is a great example of following the science,” said Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and a dean at the Brown University School of Public Health. “We don’t need to continue to do things the same way, just because they’ve always been done that way. We should follow what we’re learning about the virus.”
Monday’s announcement follows the agency’s move last week to change guidelines to allow health care workers to reduce their time in isolation from 10 days to seven, or even five in times of a staffing crisis.
As the omicron variant stretches many hospitals and health workers to near breaking, federal officials said they want to make sure there is enough staff when there’s a COVID-19 outbreak.
The changes announced on Monday extend the guidance to the general public.
“If it’s good enough for health care workers, it should be good enough for everyone,” Ranney said. “If the rules truly are that if you are asymptomatic, you can shorten your isolation, that’s fair. And that’s backed up by the science.”
Source: The Hill