CDC announces Americans with Covid can shorten quarantine from 10 to 5 days as Omicron surge hits workforce

THE CDC has announced that Americans with Covid-19 can shorten quarantine time from 10 to five days as Omicron continues to sweep through the US workforce.

The health agency made the announcement on Monday afternoon after adjusting the quarantine time for health care workers last week.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that people with the coronavirus are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.

The decision also was driven by a recent surge in Covid cases, propelled by the omicron variant.

Early research suggests omicron may cause milder illnesses than earlier versions of the coronavirus.

However, the sheer number of people becoming infected — and therefore having to isolate or quarantine — threatens to crush the ability of hospitals, airlines and other businesses to stay open, experts say.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the country is about to see a lot of omicron cases.

"Not all of those cases are going to be severe. In fact many are going to be asymptomatic,” she told The Associated Press on Monday.

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“We want to make sure there is a mechanism by which we can safely continue to keep society functioning while following the science."

Omicron has led to massive disruptions in several industries, including airlines.

Thousands of flights were cancelled over Christmas weekend due to staffing shortages brought on by the surge in omicron cases.

Another 2,600 were cancelled on Monday, including about 1,000 in the US.

Last week, the CDC loosened rules that previously called on health care workers to stay out of work for 10 days if they test positive.

The new recommendations said workers could go back to work after seven days if they test negative and don’t have symptoms.

The agency also said isolation time could be cut to five days, or even fewer, if there are severe staffing shortages.

Now, the CDC is changing the isolation and quarantine guidance for the general public to be even less stringent.

The guidance is not a mandate; it's a recommendation to employers and state and local officials.

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