Published On: Sat, Nov 28th, 2020

CDC Looks to Shorten Coronavirus Quarantine Recommendation

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering shortening the number of days it recommends a person self-quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A top agency official told the Journal the CDC hopes more people would comply with quarantine guidelines if the time is shortened.

Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC's incident manager for the coronavirus response, said officials are working on a new set of recommendations. The new guidelines would likely recommend a quarantine between 7-10 days and include a coronavirus test to confirm a person is negative, according to Walke.

Officials are finalizing the exact time period and what type of test a person trying to come out of quarantine should take, he said. 

“We do think that the work that we've done, and some of the studies we have and the modeling data that we have, shows that we can with testing shorten quarantines,” he said, adding a negative test shows a person's “probability of going on and developing an infection after that is pretty low.”

He said in shaving days off the current 14-day recommendation could result in some infections being missed. But he said he is hopeful more people will actually quarantine if the time frame is reduced.

Public health experts have not spent too much time studying the relationship between compliance and the length of a quarantine, the Journal reports. 

Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said research shows about 50% of people who become ill develop symptoms between five and six days after they are infected, while 9% develop symptoms after 10 days, and 2% after 14 days.

“If we could get people to quarantine — and really quarantine, like you can't go to the grocery store when you quarantine — then I think there's an argument for shorter times,” he said.

The World Health Organization still recommends a 14-day quarantine, but expert groups that advise the group are reviewing the data, a WHO spokeswoman told the Journal.

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