US shortens COVID-19 isolation and quarantine time

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday shortened the recommended times that people should isolate when they've tested positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five days if they don't have symptoms – and if they wear a mask around others for at least five more days.

The CDC also shortened the recommended time for people to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus to a similar five days if they are vaccinated and often to no time if they are boosted.

"Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others," the CDC said in a statement.

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Coronavirus, lockdown, isolation

"The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the one to two days prior to onset of symptoms and the two to three days after.

"Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for five days to minimise the risk of infecting others."

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COVID-19 testing Christmas Day at  Melbourne Town Hall

Quarantine refers to the time people stay away from others if they are exposed to a disease but not yet testing positive or showing symptoms.

CDC changed those recommendations, too. "For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than two months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days," it said.

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"Alternatively, if a five-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.

"Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

"For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19."

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