| 21 May 2024, Tuesday |

People in US perplexed due to cut in COVID-19 isolation period by half

Recent guidelines to cut the isolation and quarantine period in half have issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), have raised questions among experts and caused concern among the general public in the US.

As omicron, the variant notorious for its rapid contagiousness, pervades and triggers new spikes in the number of cases worldwide, the CDC guidelines have been met with strong criticism and disagreement for recommending shorter isolation and allowing it to end without the requirement of a negative PCR test.

The unexpected changes in isolation and quarantine periods, amid recent spikes in cases due to the omicron variant, raised doubts about whether the CDC was caving in to the pressures of major sectors and profit-driven laypeople affected by the pandemic’s negative impact on the workforce.

Concerns have also been raised about the health care sector, as health professionals may be required to return to work before fully recovering from COVID-19, leading to the spread of the virus and, as a result, a reduction in the number of health care workers available in hospitals.

Meanwhile, experts point out that there is not enough research involving the omicron form to back up CDC2’s decision.

The CDC reduced the recommended COVID-19 isolation period from 10 days to five days on Monday, followed by another five days of wearing a mask around others for asymptomatic patients.

If the patient is asymptomatic, they may be released from isolation on the condition that they wear a mask around others for another five days to minimize the risk of infecting others, according to the CDC.

The CDC attributed the change in guidelines to the fact that the virus is transmitted in the early stages of the illness, usually within the first two days of infection.

The center also altered its quarantine recommendations for people who have been exposed to the coronavirus, depending on whether or not they have been vaccinated.

People who have not been vaccinated or have not had their last mRNA dose in more than six months should undergo a five-day quarantine followed by strict mask wear for another five days.

If a five-day quarantine is not feasible, the CDC recommends wearing a well-fitting mask at all times while around others for 10 days after exposure.

Individuals who have had their booster shot do not need to be quarantined after being exposed, but they should wear a mask for 10 days afterwards, it added.