The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its testing guidelines for coronavirus. The updated CDC Coronavirus testing guidelines do not recommend testing for people who are asymptomatic even if they are in close contact with COVID-19 patients. Previously, testing was recommended by the CDC for people with suspected or recent exposure even if they showed no symptoms.
Experts are unsure about this revision in CDC coronavirus testing guidelines as they pointed out the importance of testing in patients immediately after they have contracted the virus and before the onset of symptoms as they think that during this brief period patients are the most contagious. Various models around the world have suggested that nearly half of the coronavirus transmission was done by people when they were in their pre-symptomatic stage, which is before they started feeling ill.
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The CDC website said previously that testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Because of the potential for pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission, it is important that people in contact with individuals who are tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested.
Now the updated CDC coronavirus testing guidelines state that if a person has been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person infected with covid19 for at least 15 minutes but are asymptomatic, they do not necessarily need to be tested unless they are vulnerable individuals or their health care provider or state or local public health officials recommend them to take one.
The CDC said that according to its current best estimates, 40% of the infected people show no symptoms and 50% of the virus spreads before the occurrence of symptoms. The doctors were confused by the update in testing guidelines by the CDC as they didn’t explain the changes.
An Emergency Physician and Public Health professor at George Washington University Dr. Leana Wen is concerned about these recommendations that someone who has had substantial exposure to a covid19 infected person doesn’t need to get tested. She said that this is key to contact tracing as up to 50% of all transmission is done by people with no symptoms. She thinks that these guidelines are updated to justify continued deficit of testing.
Susan Butler-Wu, who is a clinical microbiologist at the University of California’s Keck School of Medicine, is concerned that the new guidelines would be misinterpreted and could imply that people who are asymptomatic are not capable of passing the virus to others. She said that in the middle of the pandemic it’s a big change.
US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson said that the updated guidelines do not undermine contact tracing or any other types of surveillance testing. The HHS said that people, before making a decision of getting tested, should consult with their local health officials and their doctors.
Experts believe that a more negligent approach to testing could obscure the spread of the virus and also delay crucial treatments. The number of cases remains persistently high across much of the United States, though the numbers have fallen from a peak of 66,000 new cases a day to 43000 new cases in a day in recent weeks. Progress is now being reported in many states that were the most affected by the covid19 outbreaks including Florida and Arizona. However, some parts of the Midwest and some US territories are still seeing an increase in cases.