The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may soon shorten the recommended quarantine period for possible exposure to COVID-19, in the hope that more people will follow the advice, Tuesday’s report said.
The agency is finalizing plans to reduce the proposed 14-day self-closing period to between seven and 10 days, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The new guidelines would include a test to ensure that the quarantined person is negative for the coronavirus, Henry Walke, a senior CDC official, told the newspaper.
“We believe that the work we have done, as well as some of the studies we have and the modeling data we have, show that we are able to shorten quarantine through testing,” Walke told the business.
“Hopefully people would be better able to enforce quarantine if it were seven to ten days, for example.”
There is a risk that some cases may be omitted, as studies have shown that it can take up to two weeks for coronavirus symptoms to appear in an infected person.
But about 50 percent of people who become ill develop symptoms within the first five to six days after infection. Research has also shown that the virus is most contagious in the first five days after the onset of symptoms.
Based on these data, as well as COVID-19’s latest testing strategies and the fact that people are tired after several months of restrictions, some public health experts say the 14-day quarantine period is too long.
“If we could get people quarantined – and really put them in quarantine, as if they couldn’t go into the grocery store during quarantine, I think there could be an argument for shorter times,” said Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School. Public health, he told the paper.
According to the researcher, the proposed self-isolation period may depend on the situation. For example, a shorter quarantine may be appropriate before returning to an office, while 14 days is still safest before visiting an elderly relative.
Other countries, such as France, Germany and Belgium, have already reduced their recommended isolation periods for people potentially exposed to the virus.
The World Health Organization, which is currently proposing a 14-day quarantine, said expert groups advising it are reviewing the data.