In new guidance, the CDC says that people could come out of quarantine without testing if they do not develop any symptoms 10 days after being exposed to another person with coronavirus, or after seven days with a negative test result and no symptoms.
The shift comes as COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths are on the rise in the US, and with that, more people are facing quarantine.
The new quarantine guidance was based on an “extensive” model by the CDC and other agencies that showed the risk to be low, said Dr. John Brooks, the CDC’s medical director of the COVID-19 response, during a telereport on Monday. Wednesday.
Many people in the U.S. terminate quarantine prematurely due to pressure to return to work and school, CDC officials said, and some are unwilling to share the names of contacts they fear will later break out. requires them to be quarantined.
But if the quarantine period is shortened from 14 days, more people may be willing to stay home after exposure, the CDC said, and that may result in fewer coronavirus infections.
“We think that if we can reduce the burden a little bit, accepting that it has a small cost, we can achieve greater overall compliance with people completing a full quarantine,” said Dr. Brooks.
“If we get more people to join to complete that overall, that will result in fewer infections.”
Risk of transmission after ending the quarantine prematurely
There is still some risk that a person who came out of quarantine before 14 days could transmit the virus to other people.
“We can safely reduce the length of the quarantine, but accept that there is a small residual risk that a person who leaves the quarantine early could transmit it to another person if it becomes infectious,” said Dr. Brooks.
If a person was quarantined for seven days and had no symptoms and a negative test, the risk of transmitting the coronavirus is about 5 percent, with an upper limit of about 12 percent.
A PCR or antigen test must be collected within 48 hours before the end of the quarantine, the CDC says, but the quarantine should not end before seven days, even if the test results are returned sooner.
People who have been exposed should still watch for symptoms for 14 days, especially if they end the quarantine early, Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s COVID-19 incident manager, said Wednesday.
And if a person continues to develop symptoms, they should contact local health authorities and healthcare provider, seek testing, and isolate themselves.
The recommendations of local public health agencies may also differ from those of the CDC.
“Everyone should follow this specific guidance from local public health authorities on how long they should be quarantined,” Dr. Walke said.