U.S. CDC Shortens Recommended COVID-19 Isolation Period for People Without Symptoms

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shortened the recommended isolation period from 10 days to five days for people who test positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms.

After isolation, asymptomatic people must then wear a mask when around others for the next five days.

“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 minimize the risk of infecting others,” CDC said in its updated guidance on Dec. 27.

According to CDC, the change is based on growing evidence that the virus is most contagious in the two or three days after symptoms arise.

CDC also updated its recommended quarantine period for those exposed to COVID-19.

CDC said that unvaccinated people or those who are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose and not yet boosted should quarantine for five days, followed by “strict mask use for an additional five days.”

If a five-day quarantine is not feasible, CDC said that the exposed individual should wear “a well-fitting mask at all times when around others” for 10 days after being exposed.

Meanwhile, those who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine after being exposed, but must wear a mask for 10 days after exposure, CDC said.

All those exposed, regardless of vaccination status, would still need to take a COVID-10 test on the fifth day after exposure.

“CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses. These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said.

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