People exposed to COVID-19 but asymptomatic may not be tested, says CDC

*Infectious disease experts say new policy ‘will kill’, express concern about the change

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a U-turn that appears somewhat confusing to many, the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in its updated COVID-19 testing guidelines, has stated that people without symptoms of the novel COVID-19 pandemic don’t need to be tested if in contact with someone known to have the ravaging virus.

It was gathered that under its previous guidelines, the regulatory agency recommended that “all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection” be tested, agency report says.

The CDC said prompt testing would help to quickly identify the virus in the event that the exposed individual was asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.

ConsumerConnect learnt the CDC in the week changed its Web site to reflect a different recommendation for people exposed to the virus.

The agency’s Web site now says: “If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes, but do not have symptoms, you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or state or local public health officials recommend you take one.”

The fresh guidelines state that “not everyone needs to be tested.

“If you do get tested, you should self-quarantine/isolate at home pending test results and follow the advice of your health care provider or a public health professional.”

In the meantime, report says infectious disease experts have expressed confusion and concern over the policy change, which the CDC has yet to explain.

Alison Galvani, Director for the Center for Infectious Disease Modeling and Analysis at Yale School of Medicine, in a tweet said testing people without symptoms is crucial.

Galvani stated: “Our work on the ‘silent’ spread underscored the importance of testing people who have been exposed to COVID-19 regardless of symptoms.

“This change in policy will kill.”

Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University, in the US, told CNN that the new guidelines threaten to derail contact tracing efforts.

Wen said: “I’m concerned that these recommendations suggest someone who has had substantial exposure to a person with COVID-19 now doesn’t need to get tested.

“This is key to contact tracing, especially given that up to 50% of all transmission is due to people who do not have symptoms.

He added: “One wonders why these guidelines were changed ─is it to justify continued deficit of testing?”

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