US Relaxes Quarantine Rules Just as Omicron Makes the Numbers Skyrocket

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In the United States, the quarantine measures for those who become infected with the coronavirus have been relaxed. Anyone who tests positive will no longer have to be in isolation for ten but only five days.


This has been announced by the American health service CDC. Other rules also apply to those who have already received a booster shot.

While the omicron variant is advancing and the daily number of infections – just like in many other countries – is skyrocketing, the US Health Service decided to relax the rules around isolation. The duration has been halved: anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus and does not show any disease symptoms can go outside after five days—a striking change.

“The omicron variant is spreading rapidly and has the potential to affect all facets of our society,” said Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This adjustment ensures that people can continue their daily lives safely.”

Omicron does not increase the hospital figures as quickly, yet the pressure is very high. Partly also due to the high dropout rate among healthcare staff. The New York governor wanted to tinker with the mandatory isolation period for those who practice an essential profession. For example, healthcare staff would return to work after five days. The CDC also follows that line of reasoning, “because people are the most contagious during the first two to three days”.

The early lifting of the isolation is subject to certain conditions: the infected person may not show a fever or other disease symptoms and ideally wear a mouth mask. There has also been a relaxation for those who have already received a booster against the coronavirus. After a high-risk contact, quarantine is no longer necessary, but wearing a mouth mask still has to be done for another ten days.

The widespread omicron variant also causes failure in other sectors. According to the tracking website FlightAware, airlines have had to cancel more than 2,100 flights because pilots, flight attendants and other staff called in sick or quarantined after exposure to corona. Lufthansa, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines are carriers with significant problems.

Shortening the isolation in essential professions is then worth considering, said biostatistician Geert Molenberghs earlier. According to the professor, this was not an option for delta. Due to the long-term contagiousness, the quarantine rules were extended. “But at omicron, there is more momentum. For an individual, an infection is over more quickly.”

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