US CDC drops five-day COVID isolation guidelines

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US CDC drops five-day COVID isolation guidelines © Reuters. A family self isolates at home amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Shoreline, Washington, U.S., March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

(Reuters) -The U.S. CDC on Friday dropped its five-day COVID-19 isolation recommendations under a new guidance, instead suggesting that people return to normal activities if symptoms improve and they are fever-free for at least 24 hours without needing medicines.

The guidelines had not been updated since December 2021, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had shortened the recommended isolation time for Americans with asymptomatic cases to five days from 10 days.

“CDC is making updates to the recommendations now because the U.S. is seeing far fewer hospitalizations and deaths associated with COVID-19 and because we have more tools than ever to combat flu, COVID and RSV,” the agency said in a statement.

CDC recommended that once people resume normal activities, they should take additional prevention strategies, including keeping a distance from others, for the next five days to curb the disease spread.

The agency’s recommendations include enhanced precautions to protect those most at risk for severe illness, including those over 65 and people with weakened immune systems.

CDC data estimated nearly 92.3% of COVID-19 cases in the United States for the two weeks ending Saturday were caused by the sub-variant JN.1, classified as a “variant of interest” by the World Health Organization.

The agency on Wednesday signed off on the use of updated COVID vaccines as a second annual shot for adults aged 65 and older.

According to CDC estimates, around 22% of adults in the United States have received the COVID vaccine that was updated for the 2023-24 vaccination season, including close to 42% of those aged 65 or older.

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