The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering to reduce the quarantine period from 14 to 7 to 10 days only. This change will be confirmed in a few days and imposed right away.
The reason behind this change is to make improved compliance with all COVID-19 patients. Now that this virus is well studied and understood, the information on viral incubation, spread, and transmission is clear. In most patients, the earliest symptoms start to appear after five days of being exposed. But in some patients, these symptoms could take nearly 14 days to show up.
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The latest publication by the CDC shares that only 7 days of quarantine is enough period for a COVID-19 suspect. This study is still not peer-reviewed and waiting for it.
Earlier this year, when the virus first emerged, the 14-day quarantine for everyone was mandatory. Especially for the travelers, spending 14 days in isolation without any specific test or symptom checker was being followed.
Though this standard has itself contributed towards controlling the infection as the risk of COVID decreases up to 100% during this time. However, a short period of 7-day quarantine for COVID-19 patients may also be sufficient as the symptoms will eventually show up within this one week.
This 7-day quarantine is 95% to 99% helpful to control the virus and this time is less burdensome for the suspected person, which may be good for his mental health.
Health experts believe that this step of reducing the quarantine period will encourage the public to follow the isolation rules instead of ignoring them completely.
Dr. Henry Walke, the incident manager for COVID-19 response at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said to The Wall Street Journal that there is sufficient data to suggest that shorter quarantine will also work. If the standard swab test after isolation comes negative, it clearly tells that their chances to get the infection are very low.
Initially, all health experts agreed on the 14-day quarantine, marking it as the standard time for the virus to enter into the body and start replication. But when a person gets infected, the virus is actually already inside his body many days ago and replicating. The body only gets symptoms once the viral particles reach a certain end.
The standard incubation time for coronavirus is five days but more than 97% of people show up symptoms after 10-12 days of being infected. So the 14 day incubation period was a ‘standard’ for the majority of people. Although there is data showing that a 7 day quarantine period for COVID-19 patients is enough, its practical value can only be determined once it is imposed.
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Those who are under quarantine are advised to stay at their homes and do not attend a school or go to work. They are also expected not to interact with people or show up in public, even if they are wearing a mask.
They can take help from friends and family to get the essentials delivered to their homes. Or they can also try online grocery shopping with doorstep delivery.
Several European countries have already shortened their quarantine recommendations. These countries include Belgium, Spain, and Germany. France has also reduced its 14 day quarantine period and set a 7 day period. Other countries have reduced it to 10 days.
But The World Health Organization (WHO) still suggests following the full 14-day quarantine. The WHO officials are currently reviewing the ideas to shorten the quarantine period.