CDC cuts recommended isolation period for Americans to 5 days; can India follow suit?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended reducing the quarantine period from 10 days to five days for Americans who have tested positive for Covid-19. And similarly, for their close contacts too.

“CDC has shortened the recommended time for #COVID19 isolation and quarantine,” a Twitter post on its official handle stated.

As per CDC, one who has tested positive should stay home for the first five days. Form day 6-10, provided one has no symptoms or symptoms are resolving, one can step out with their mask on. “If you have a fever, continue to stay home until your fever resolves,” it stated.

As per the US national public health agency, this is in keeping with the “growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop”.

“The 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. Therefore, 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 minimise the risk of infecting others,” it stated on its official website.

quarantine In India, currently, the isolation period for Covid-19, and/or Omicron patients is 14 days (Source: Express Photo by Gajendra Yadav)

It also stated that:

*For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days.

*Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure. For all those exposed, best practice would also include a test for SARS-CoV-2 at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to Covid-19.

As per CDC Director, Dr Rochelle Walensky, the updated recommendations “ensure people can safely continue their daily lives” in the wake of the Omicron variant which is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of the 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,” Dr Walensky noted.

Meanwhile, in India, currently, the isolation period for Covid-19, and/or Omicron patients is 14 days. India has reported over 781 cases of Omicron variant of Covid-19 so far.

While breakthrough infections are rising among the fully vaccinated population, the symptoms are milder, experts point out.

Can India, currently prepping for ‘precautionary doses’ from January 10, 2022 for frontline workers, and elderly above 60 years of age, can follow suit?

Dr Abhishek Subhash, Consultant Internal Medicine at Bhatia Hospital asserted that he “wouldn’t recommend reducing the quarantine period”. “Simply because we haven’t started giving the booster dose yet. Plus, we as a country are absolutely lackadaisical when it comes to masking up,” he said.

Echoing similar concerns, Dr Sonam Solanki, Consultant Pulmonologist and Bronchoscopist, Masina Hospital, Byculla, Mumbai said: “Although this decision of the CDC is backed by scientific evidence, it also has a component of civil responsibility where the patient themselves will have to follow strict criteria of what sort of mask to where and the protocols of masking, which very often we have not seen the people follow in real life, especially in the Indian set-up. This is why continuing the 10-day quarantine will be required in the India.”

As per MoHFW, it is essential to mask yourself properly, take both doses of vaccines (if not yet vaccinated), maintain social distancing and maintain good ventilation.

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