New guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control says that patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 with mild to moderate symptoms no longer need to test negative before coming out of isolation. The new guidelines say that after about 10 days, patients are no longer infectious. This revelation was backed by increasing evidence from multiple studies, which led the CDC to revise its guidelines.
The CDC says, “For most persons with COVID-19 illness, isolation and precautions can generally be discontinued 10 days after symptom onset and resolution of fever for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and with improvement of other symptoms.”
The revised guidelines also mention an isolation period for patients with more severe symptoms to be 20 days. The normal 10 day isolation period also doesn’t apply for patients with compromised immune systems, or other histories of respiratory disease/weakness.
Regarding people with more severe cases of COVID-19, “Persons with more severe to critical illness or severe immunocompromise likely remain infectious no longer than 20 days after symptom onset.”
Medical testing after recovery is an expensive and time-consuming process. It has been recognized as one of the main limiting factors in opening the economy. However, all evidence points to a 10-day isolation period as being safe, as the virus will not spread after that time. You may still have mild symptoms and carry the disease, it just won’t be infections. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, talking about negative testing after a confirmed infection as “no longer needed, and it is medically unnecessary.”
The CDC also says that parts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was still found in patients up to 3 months later, but is again not dangerous as the chance of spreading the disease is still “unlikely.” “Recovered persons can continue to shed detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA in upper respiratory specimens for up to 3 months after illness onset, albeit at concentrations considerably lower than during illness, in ranges where replication-competent virus has not been reliably recovered and infectiousness is unlikely.”
The CDC also claims that reinfection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus has not been definitely confirmed. There have been reports of testing positive again, however. In April, the WHO was investigating why that might have been. Many still speculate that it could have been the antibodies triggering a positive result during a test.
Also to note, the 10 day isolation period is only for people that have tested positive for COVID-19 with mild to moderate symptoms and have been asked to self-isolate. However, you are still required to quarantine for 14 days if you don’t know if you have the virus or not. The incubation period for the novel coronavirus is still 14 days, and that number hasn’t changed. Though SARS-CoV-2 has an incubation period of 14 days, most people develop symptoms after about 5 days. 20-40 percent of people remain asymptomatic carriers.
The new guidelines aim to target the backlog in COVID-19 testing in the USA. Reducing the number of unnecessary negative tests will help bring tests to people that really need it, checking to see if they are positive.
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