The CDC may shorten the length of time it recommends that a person self-quarantine after potential exposure to the novel coronavirus, a top agency official recently told the Wall Street Journal.
Currently, the CDC recommends that those exposed to COVID-19 “stay home for 14 days after [their] last contact with a person who has COVID-19.”
However, officials are in the process of modifying recommendations to set a new quarantine period that will likely last between seven and 10 days and include a test to ensure that the person is negative for the virus, Henry Walke, the agency’s incident manager for COVID-19 response told the Journal.
Walke also revealed that officials are currently discussing the exact quarantine time period and what type of test someone should take to no longer be required to quarantine.
“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,” Walke said, also noting that if a test comes back negative after seven to 10 days, “then their [patients’] probability of going on and developing an infection after that is pretty low.”
Although there is a risk that some infections may be overlooked, people may also better adhere to a shorter quarantine period, Walke pointed out.
According to Justin Lessler, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, around 59% of people who contract the illness develop symptoms between five and six days after they are infected. Nine percent, on the other hand, develop symptoms after 10 days, while only 2% show symptoms 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 told the Journal.
The World Health Organization (WHO) currently recommends that those exposed to COVID-19 quarantine for 14 days.
However, a WHO spokesperson told the Journal that expert groups that advise the organization are currently reviewing the data to determine whether it should alter its quarantine guidelines.