The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that people who test positive for Covid-19 but have no symptoms should isolate for five days, down from the previous recommendation of 10 days.
The agency attributed the change to growing evidence that the virus is most infectious in the two or three days after symptoms arise.
In addition to cutting the time in half for isolation, the CDC said that for people who are asymptomatic, an additional five days of wearing a mask when around others is recommended.
“Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for five days to minimize the risk of infecting others,” the CDC said in a statement.
The agency also recommended that unvaccinated people or those who are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose and not yet boosted should quarantine for five days after exposure to the virus followed by “strict mask use for an additional 5 days.”
“The Omicron variant is spreading quickly and has the potential to impact all facets of our society. CDC’s updated recommendations for isolation and quarantine balance what we know about the spread of the virus and the protection provided by vaccination and booster doses,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
“These updates ensure people can safely continue their daily lives. Prevention is our best option: get vaccinated, get boosted, wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of substantial and high community transmission, and take a test before you gather,” she added.