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US CDC Shortens Isolation, Quarantine Period For COVID-19 Patients Amid Omicron Surge

People who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days, said CDC


IMAGE: AP/Shutterstock

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] on Monday, Dec. 27 shortened the recommended period for COVID-19 isolation from 10 days to 5 days based on what the health agency “currently knows about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.” The rule is applicable to asymptomatic COVID-19 infections only. When the patient’s quarantine period terminates, they are required to wear the mask mandatorily for at least 5 days, said the CDC in a statement on Monday. The majority of SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19] transmission occurs early in the course of illness, CDC stressed, adding that this is generally in the 1-2 days prior to the onset of symptoms and then some 2-3 days after the disease contraction.

“People who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others,” the CDC recommended. 

Those not 'boosted' to quarantine for 5 days

Separately, people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose, or additionally those who have lapsed more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine, and are not yet boosted are required to quarantine for 5 days. A strict mask use for an additional 5 days is needed. “If a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure,” the US health agency stressed. Although for those who have had their booster shots, the quarantine has not been mandated following an exposure, CDC said as the risk for such individuals to transmit the virus is low. 

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told AP that while the country is about to see a lot of Omicron cases, not all of them will be severe. “In fact many are going to be asymptomatic,” she said. “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”

But those boosted are required to wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure to the COVID-19 positive case. However, if symptoms occur for the boosted individuals after coming in contact with a COVID-19 positive diagnosed person, they are required to immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19, said CDC. “Isolation for 5 days followed by wearing a well-fitting mask will minimise the risk of spreading the virus to others,” the health body reminded. Earlier a CDC report revealed that the two dose regime of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is only 35% effective against the highly mutated Omicron variant of concern, but a booster dose increases protection to 75%.   

Tags: COVID-19, US, CDC
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