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28 Dec, 2021 00:32

CDC unveils new Covid-19 quarantine guidance

The US national public health agency halves the recommended self-isolation time as infections surge
CDC unveils new Covid-19 quarantine guidance

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has cut its guidance regarding quarantine for those infected with Covid-19 from 10 days to five, saying the virus is typically passed on early in the course of the illness.

The change stems from growing evidence that Covid-19 transmission usually occurs within a short window from one to two days before the onset of symptoms to two to three days after, the CDC said on Monday. The agency recommended that people who test positive for the virus isolate themselves for five days and, on leaving quarantine, wear a mask for five days to minimize their risk of infecting other people.

Similarly, the CDC halved the recommended quarantine period for unvaccinated Americans who are exposed to Covid-19 to five days. For those who can’t isolate themselves, the CDC advised wearing a mask when around others for 10 days after exposure. The same guidance applies to vaccinated people who are more than six months out from their second jab and haven’t yet received a booster shot.

Unveiling the new recommendations, the agency acknowledged that the rapid spread of Covid-19’s Omicron variant could dramatically reduce the personnel needed to keep hospitals, airlines, and other key businesses operating.

“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. “The CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives.”

Walensky told the Associated Press that many Omicron cases would be asymptomatic, hence the guidance about continuing to mask after receiving a positive test result. “We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science.”

Staffing disruptions caused by Omicron’s spread have already hobbled the US airline industry. Nearly 1,300 US flights were canceled on Monday and about 6,000 were delayed, according to tracking data from Flightaware. Thousands of flights were canceled over the Christmas holiday weekend – the busiest time of year for US air travel.