The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that it was shortening its recommended isolation time for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to five days, from the previously recommended 10, if they are symptom-free.
The CDC also updated its recommendations for those who were in close contact with an infected person, but not infected themselves. The agency recommends that those who have received a booster shot before the exposure can avoid quarantining if they adhere to strict mask use for 10 days after exposure. Previously, the CDC said that anyone who had received two doses of the Moderna MRNA, -1.24% or Pfizer PFE, +0.83% vaccine, or one dose of the J&J JNJ, +0.84% vaccine could avoid quarantine.
“The omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our 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,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
“These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives,” she added. “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.”
The change comes amid the rapid spread of the omicron variant, which is thought to be more infectious, have a shorter incubation period and more easily spreads to the vaccinated population. The new variant has helped trigger fresh worker shortages in critical industries and led to the cancellation of thousands of flights across the U.S. during peak holiday travel season.