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For those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, or suspect they may be infected, knowing when it’s safe to see other people can be daunting. In an attempt to offer some clarification, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week issued new guidelines on how to proceed after you are feeling better.
For those who are symptomatic and have a confirmed or highly suspected case of COVID-19, the federal agency advised waiting 10 days since symptoms first appeared, including three days with no fever, before seeing others. Overall symptoms must also have improved before coming out of isolation, the CDC added.
“Depending on your health care provider’s advice and availability of testing, you might get tested to see if you still have COVID-19. If you will be tested, you can be around others when you have no fever, symptoms have improved, and you receive two negative test results in a row, at least 24 hours apart,” the CDC said.
For those who have tested positive for COVID-19 but do not show any symptoms, the CDC also advised waiting 10 days from the time you were tested before having contact with other people. Asymptomatic people must continue to be asymptomatic within that period of time. If they develop symptoms, however, they are advised to follow the guidelines outlined above.
Those with weakened immune systems, such as those undergoing cancer treatment, should possibly wait longer than 10 days — but the federal agency advised that those patients speak to their health care provider for more personalized recommendations.
“It is important to remember that anyone who has close contact with someone with COVID-19 should stay home for 14 days after exposure based on the time it takes to develop illness,” the CDC added.
But why 10 days? The guidelines come after the CDC earlier this month cited two studies in its memo titled: “Symptom-Based Strategy to Discontinue Isolation for Persons with COVID-19.” The studies referenced by the federal agency found that the “statistically estimated likelihood of recovering replication-competent virus approaches zero by 10 days.”
That said, how long a person remains contagious after contracting the virus remains a source of debate, and more research is needed, Yahoo noted.
“What the CDC is basically saying is that they think the data are pretty secure that after 10 days you’re no longer infectious. There’s probably no live virus anymore,” Dr. Willam Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist, and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine explained to the outlet.
The news comes after the CDC also recently issued guidelines on office reopenings as many states begin to ease lockdown restrictions.