Doctors can now approve coronavirus testing, CDC says

Anyone showing symptoms of the coronavirus — reported to include fever, cough and shortness of breath — can be tested for the novel virus if a doctor agrees, federal health officials announced this week in expanded guidelines for coronavirus testing.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday announced the new guidelines. However, the federal agency “strongly encouraged” doctors to first rule out other respiratory illnesses such as the flu before testing patients for the virus.

“This expands testing to a wider group of symptomatic patients. Clinicians should use their judgment to determine if a patient has signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19 and whether the patient should be tested. Decisions on which patients receive testing should be based on the local epidemiology of COVID-19, as well as the clinical course of illness," the CDC said.

Previously, testing was limited to patients who had signs of respiratory illness and had recently traveled to China, recently come into contact with a person confirmed to have the coronavirus or those hospitalized “with a severe and unexplained respiratory illness," per the Chicago Tribune. 

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The new guidelines come after Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday that “any American can be tested” for the virus if a doctor suspects it.