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Health Team

CDC considers shortening quarantine for people exposed to coronavirus

Posted November 25, 2020 2:15 p.m. EST
Updated November 25, 2020 3:53 p.m. EST

The CDC is considering shortening the recommendation that people quarantine for two weeks if exposed to coronavirus, but some local physicians say there is a risk that some cases would go unnoticed.

Public health officials currently recommend people quarantine at home for two weeks -- the time they believe it takes the virus to incubate in the body -- if they are exposed to someone with the coronavirus.

Now, the guidance may change. Researchers are looking at whether testing can be used to bring down the quarantine time from 14 days to 7 to 10 days.

Recently, the CDC updated its international travel guidance, urging travelers to get tested for the virus 3 to 5 days after returning home. If that test is negative, they advise staying home for a full seven days. Without a test, the quarantine should last the full two weeks.

As we head into the holidays, Dr. David Wohl, an infectious disease specialist with the UNC School of Medicine still advises that, even with a negative test, people need to be careful around this virus.

"It's helpful that the test is negative, but it doesn't mean that you're not going to be shedding virus," Wohl said. "A negative test is a great green light, but go forward and still wear the mask, distance and be careful when eating because everybody has their masks off."

This change in quarantine guidance is only being considered by the FDA at this point. There is no word on when this new guidance might be announced.

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