Since the past year and a half, the norm is that asymptomatic people with Covid-19 must isolate themselves for 10 days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened Covid-19 isolation to 5 days only. As Omicron cases rise, the CDC has changed its policy. Asymptomatic individuals will only have to isolate themselves for 5 days now. After which they have to wear a mask for the remaining 5 days.
According to the CDC guidelines, the high-risk transmission period for Covid-19 is 2 days before and 3 days after symptoms appear. The health policy changes have been made based on this time frame.
What Are The Experts Saying?
Health experts had previously chastised the CDC’s measures to contain Covid-19 as being strict. But they still aren’t delighted with this update in Covid restrictions. To them, not requiring a PCR test to end Covid-19 isolation is a significant flaw in CDC strategy. They believe it will hinder attempts to keep Omicron in check. The variant itself is more contagious than its counterparts, albeit less severe.
The Dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, Dr. Ashish Jha, takes the middle ground. In a tweet, he recommends 5 days of Covid-19 isolation, and 2 negative rapid tests as “enough to end isolation”. Dr. Jha believes that antigen or rapid tests are a brilliant way to assess the virus’s contagiousness. This is because rapid tests give positive results when the viral load is at its peak.
Other experts also prefer to rely on tests to judge the infectiousness of Covid-19. “We should actually rely more on the antigen-test results than on the symptoms,” said Juliet Morrison. She is a virologist working in the University of California.
What Else Has The CDC Changed?
Other CDC announcements recommend getting tested 5 days after contact with a Covid positive person. People with boosters should only wear a mask for 10 days after exposure. They should quarantine only if they begin to show symptoms. Individuals who are not vaccinated should isolate for 5 days after exposure. Subsequently, they should wear a mask for 5 days. This should also be the case for people who haven’t gotten a booster shot yet.
CDC has also changed its directives for healthcare workers. Those tested positive for Covid-19 can come back to work after 7 days if they are asymptomatic. They also have to test negative for Covid.
The Bottom Line
The debate surrounding Covid-19 isolation restrictions is about weighing risks. What are the potential rewards of reintroducing individuals sooner to the workforce? What are the drawbacks? Countries are unwilling to prolong the economic fallout from the pandemic.
Research on the newest Omicron variant suggests that it is milder. With stakes decreasing as vaccination rollouts have gained momentum worldwide, time-consuming restrictions are becoming harder to stomach.
So far the CDC is taking a chance by lowering Covid-19 restrictions. Let’s see if it pans out the way they hoped. What do you think the CDC should have done? Share your thoughts in the comments below.