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USA: CDC ends social distancing and quarantine recommendations for COVID-19

August 11th, 2022

(CNN) — The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says the nation should move away from restrictive measures such as quarantines and social distancing and focus on reducing severe disease from Covid-19.

In new guidelines released Thursday, the agency no longer recommends staying at least 6 feet away from other people to reduce the risk of exposure — a shift from guidance that had been in place since the early days of the pandemic.

The shift is a sign of how much has changed since the beginning of the pandemic more than two years ago. Nearly the entire US population has at least some immunity through vaccination, previous infection or, in some cases, both.

“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” Greta Massetti, who leads the Field Epidemiology and Prevention Branch at the CDC, said Thursday.

“High levels of population immunity due to vaccination and previous infection and the many available tools to protect the general population, and protect people at higher risk, allow us to focus on protecting people from serious illness from Covid-19.”

The new CDC guidelines say contact tracing, another hallmark during the pandemic, should be limited to hospitals and certain high-risk group-living situations such as nursing homes, and the guidelines de-emphasize the use of regular testing to screen for Covid-19, except in certain high-risk settings like nursing homes and prisons.

The new guidance also does not advise quarantining people who’ve been exposed to Covid-19 but are not infected.

But the guidance does keep some measures the same. It encourages testing for people with symptoms and their close contacts. It also says people who test positive should stay home for at least five days and wear a mask around others for 10 days. It also continues to recommend that people wear masks indoors in about half the country.

The new guidelines also tailor advice on isolation for people who became very sick from Covid-19. People with moderate symptoms — such as shortness of breath — and those who were hospitalized should stay home for at least 10 days. People with compromised immune systems should now talk to their doctor about ending their isolation after an infection.

There’s new advice on what to do if your Covid-19 symptoms rebound, too. If you end isolation and your Covid-19 symptoms get worse, you should start isolation over again and see your doctor.

The changes are an acknowledgment that SARS-CoV-2 may be with us for the long haul. They aim to help people live their lives around Covid-19 with minimal disruptions to work and school. They are also more risk-based, advising people who are at higher risk for severe illness to take more personal precautions than others.

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