People with COVID-19 in the US will no longer have to isolate for 10 days

Dec 27 2021, 10:27 pm

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on Monday, December 27, saying those with COVID-19 will only have to isolate for five days.

That’s down from the previous 10-day recommendation.

In a release, the CDC says, “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 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others.”

The CDC says that this change is “motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after.”

It goes on to say that 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.

According to Dr. Rochelle Walensky with the CDC, “The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society. 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. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather.”

In Canada, people are still expected to isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms for a symptomatic case, or the collection date of a positive specimen for an asymptomatic case.

According to the federal government, people should not leave the isolation setting, whether it is their home, co-living setting, or an alternate setting identified by their PHA or health care provider. They should:

  • avoid in-person interactions with others, including members of their household, if possible
  • not go out unless required or directed to seek medical care
    • if they must go out to seek medical care, they should wear a  respirator (or if not available, a well-fitted medical mask) Footnotea
  • not go to school, work, or other public places, and
  • not take public transportation to seek medical care, if possible
Amanda WawrykAmanda Wawryk

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