The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shortened its recommendation for isolation time for people diagnosed with COVID-19 to five days, if they are symptom-free.
In guidance issued Dec. 27, the CDC said if a person has no symptoms five days after testing positive for COVID-19, they no longer have to be isolated, but should continue wearing a mask for an additional five days when around others.
The CDC said the update comes given the information about the Omicron variant and more scientific data demonstrating when the majority of transmission of the coronavirus occurs.
Generally, science suggests transmission is taking place one to two days prior to the onset of symptoms and two to three days after.
“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society,” CDC director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
“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.”
The updated guidance also comes with a shortened quarantine period those exposed to COVID-19.
Unvaccinated people should quarantine for five days following an exposure and continue to wear a mask for an additional five days.
The same guidance is recommended for people who are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose and not yet boosted, and more than two months out from one Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The CDC said those who received a booster shot do not need to be quarantined, but should wear a mask for 10 days after being exposed to COVID-19.
Anyone who is exposed to the virus is encouraged to test for COVID-19 at day five of exposure, or if they have symptoms of the virus.
"These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives," Walensky said.
"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."