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CDC says recommended quarantine time after COVID-19 exposure may be shortened to 7 or 10 days, down from 14

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters (Dreamstime/TNS)
December 02, 2020

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the recommended days a person must quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 from 14 days to 7 or 10 days.

The new guidelines announced Wednesday say individuals who have close contact with an infected person can end their quarantine after 7 days if they receive a negative test, or after 10 days without a test.

The CDC defines close contact as exposures adding up to a total of 15 minutes spent 6 feet or closer to an infected person.

Dr. Henry Walke, incident manager for the CDC’s COVID-19 response, said people should monitor for symptoms 14 days after exposure.

“Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier to take this critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time,” he said during a media briefing. “In addition, a shorter quarantine period can lessen stress on the public health system and community, especially when new infections are rapidly rising.”

The CDC based its decisions on study data and modeling done by the agency and other outside institutions, Walke said. He said 14 days of quarantine remains the optimal period of time, but 7 to 10 days is a good alternative.

A meta-analysis of 1,500 studies from 2003 to June 2020, including 79 SARS-CoV-2 studies, published in The Lancet Microbe in mid-November found that infectiousness and virus shedding only lasts about 10 days after symptoms onset.

“Patients with SARS-CoV-2 infection are likely to be most infectious in the first week of illness,” study authors wrote.

The announcement comes after several outlets reported CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield had informed Vice President Mike Pence and White House Coronavirus Task Force members of the changes.

According to CNN, one official said Pence had been pushing the CDC for months to review the guidelines.

The U.S. follows some European countries who have shortened the recommended quarantine time.

In September, France reduce self-isolation time for COVID-19 from 14 days to seven days because it’s the period “when there is a real risk of contagion,” said French Prime Minister Jean Castex. Germany also reduced self-isolation time for travelers coming into the country high-risk zones to 10 days, according to a government website.

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(c) 2020 USA Today

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