New Science Suggests How to Shorten Quarantine
Testing upon exit of quarantine — ideally around day six or seven — is more effective than upon entry, and testing twice could make an eight-day quarantine as effective as a 14-day one
As people in the United States ponder how to safely reunite with family for Thanksgiving, a new study that includes data from offshore oil rig workers could help clarify the best strategy.
The matter of reuniting with family for the holiday is fraught. The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has urged Americans to skip Turkey Day altogether. Data from Canada, where Thanksgiving is celebrated in October, underscore the risks of gathering in big groups for the occasion. Canadian public health officials attributed an acceleration of Covid-19 cases there to the festivities. It’s perhaps no surprise, then, that in the United States, a poll found that 21% of people have put their regular Thanksgiving travel plans on pause — yet 39% still intend to travel during the holiday.
Many epidemiologists have recommended a two-week quarantine before gathering with loved ones to prevent spreading the coronavirus during Thanksgiving. Two weeks is also the amount of time that both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization recommend to spend in quarantine if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19. (This is different from self-isolation for people who have tested positive, which lasts around 10 days and is shorter given that the incubation period has already passed.) Among people infected with the coronavirus, around 98% of people will develop symptoms by day 12 of quarantine, some research has shown, and the median incubation time is five days.
“It makes no sense to use unduly restrictive quarantines while at the same time having indoor dining.”
But given the financial and mental health downsides to long quarantines, some rules for travel-related quarantine are changing. The CDC moved away from a blanket 14-day quarantine for international travelers at the end…