The advance of the omicron variant of the coronavirus has led the Government of U.S to change their isolation recommendations in cases of contagion and exposure to covid-19, and to rethink other measures such as whether to show proof of vaccination on domestic flights.
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This afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the change suggested in the morning by both the president, Joe Biden, and the government’s main epidemiologist, Antoni Fauci, and published new recommendations to reduce the isolation times for asymptomatic patients in case of contagion, which goes from ten to five days.
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Until now, the Government of EE. UU. had been skeptical about changing the measures, but this morning there was a change of tone and both Biden and Fauci opened the door for changes because omicron appears to be more contagious than other mutations of the covid-19, although also less serious.
First it was Fauci who, in an interview with the MSNBC network, announced that the US Executive was “seriously” evaluating reducing the isolation time that those who have been infected with the virus must comply with.
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Later, Biden admitted this possibility if the White House medical team advised it. Finally, the CDC announced the recommendations in the afternoon: cut the isolation period for those infected with covid-19 asymptomatic for ten to five days.
In a statement, the CDC explained that the change is motivated by the scientific demonstration that most infections occur at the beginning of the disease, on the first and second day of onset of symptoms and two or three days later. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate themselves for five days if they are asymptomatic and once that period has passed continue with mask another five days to minimize the risk of infecting others.
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Before the decision was known, Fauci acknowledged this morning that “there are so many people who are getting infected, including infections in people who are vaccinated,” which is why reducing the time of isolation was being studied, as has finally happened.
The CDC has also updated its recommendations for quarantine of those who have been exposed to the disease -by contact with an infected person-.
In the event that those exposed are unvaccinated people, who have been vaccinated for more than six months (or more than two in the case of the Janssen vaccine), they must also keep a five-day quarantine and spend another five days strictly wearing a mask Those who If they are vaccinated or with a recent booster, they should spend ten days with the mask on at all times.
In recent days, hundreds of flights have been canceled in the US due to the increase in the number of infections among the crews, for which the CEOs of the large airlines, such as Delta, United and American, had already asked the CDC to reduce the days of isolation to five.
However, the union of flight attendants, known as AFA, preferred that the 10 days of quarantine be maintained, considering that any change in the protocols must be based on science, not on the personnel problems that airlines are experiencing. .
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In its statement, the CDC insists that the decision is made for scientific reasons that advise it.
Vaccination on domestic flights
On the other hand, Fauci argued that it would be “reasonable to evaluate” the imposition of new vaccination requirements on domestic flights.
Until now, the US only requires proof of vaccination from international flight travelers who are neither citizens nor permanent residents, although all must prove that they have tested negative in a test de coronavirus.
On domestic flights, there is no requirement to travel, but Fauci believed that asking for proof of vaccination could get more Americans to agree to get the vaccine.
Currently the United States has a vaccination rate of 61%, which is low compared to other countries such as Portugal (88%), Chile (87%) or Spain (90%).
A level of infection similar to last winter.
The debate within the Government occurs at a time when the United States has exceeded the infection levels that were registered in the summer with the delta variant and has reached the figures of last winter, when the population was not yet vaccinated.
Specifically, in the last week (from December 19 to 26), an average of 203,000 per day was registered, a level that had not been seen since January 19, according to data from The Washington Post.
Likewise, health authorities have warned that the US could soon register more than a million new cases per day, far from the peak of 248,00 that was reached last winter.
As cases soar, millions of Americans had great difficulty getting a test this weekend, as it was impossible to get an appointment in many states and home antigen tests had sold out.
This Monday, Biden acknowledged that “more must be done” for Americans to access covid-19 tests and promised that he will work with US governors on that and other issues.
The president met this Monday with 25 of the country’s 50 governors, including Democrats and Republicans, to discuss the next steps in the pandemic: an expansion of the vaccination points, strength in health personnel and more diagnostic tests.