CDC Reflects Covid Testing Requirement for Asymptomatic People: Anthony Fauci

WASHINGTON: As the Covid-19 Omicron variant rises across the United States, senior federal health officials seek to add a negative test along with its five-day isolation restrictions for asymptomatic Americans who catch the coronavirus the White House’s senior medical adviser said on Sunday.
Dr Anthony Fauci said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now considering including the negative test as part of its guidance after receiving a significant “pushback” on its updated recommendations last week.
Under those December 27 guidelines, isolation restrictions for people infected with Covid-19 have been shortened from 10 days to five days if they no longer experience symptoms or have a fever. After this period, they are asked to spend the next five days wearing a mask when surrounded by other people.
The guidelines have since been criticized by many medical professionals for not specifying a negative antigen test as a condition for leaving isolation.
“There has been some concern as to why we are not asking people during this five-day period to get tested,” Fauci said. “Come to think of it, there may be an option, that testing could be part of it, and I think we’ll be hearing more about that in the next few days from the CDC.”
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said the United States has seen a “vertical increase” in new cases, now averaging 400,000 cases per day, with hospitalizations also on the rise.
“We are definitely in the midst of a very large increase and an increase in cases,” he said. “The acceleration of cases that we’ve seen is truly unprecedented, far beyond anything we’ve seen before.”
Fauci said he was concerned the omicron variant could overwhelm the healthcare system and cause a “major disruption” to other essential services.
“When I say major disruption, you are definitely going to see strain on the system and the system being people doing all kinds of jobs, especially jobs that are critical to keeping the company running normally,” Fauci said. “We already know that there are reports from fire departments, police departments in different cities that 10, 20, 25 and sometimes 30% of people are sick. This is something we need to be concerned about. because we want to make sure that we don’t have such an impact on society that there really is a disruption. I hope that doesn’t happen. ”
The burgeoning variant is wreaking havoc on other sectors of the American workforce and life.
Winter weather combined with the pandemic was blamed for the immobilization on Sunday of more than 2,500 US flights and more than 4,100 around the world. Dozens of U.S. colleges are bringing classes back online for at least the first week or so of the semester – and some warn that could spread for longer if the wave of infection doesn’t wear off quickly. Many companies that allowed office workers to work remotely but planned to return to the office in early 2022 have further delayed those plans.
The White House Correspondents Association said on Sunday that the number of reporters allowed in the briefing room for at least the first few weeks of the year would be reduced amid concerns over the rapidly spreading virus. Typically, 49 journalists have seats for the daily briefing, but only 14 journalists will be seated under the restrictions. The White House limited the capacity of the briefing room at the start of the pandemic, but returned to full capacity in June 2021.
Although there is “accumulating evidence” that Omicron could cause less severe disease, he warned that the data remains early. Fauci said he was particularly worried about the tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans because “a good number of them will get serious illness.”
He urged Americans who have not yet been vaccinated and boosted to do so and to mask themselves indoors to protect themselves and mitigate the current spate of cases in the United States.
The Food and Drug Administration said last week that preliminary research indicated rapid home tests detect omicron, but may have reduced sensitivity. The agency said it is still studying test performance with the variant, which was first detected in late November.
Fauci said Americans “shouldn’t feel like these tests aren’t helpful.”
“I think the confusion is that rapid antigen testing has never been more sensitive than PCR testing,” Fauci said. “They’re very good when given sequentially. So if you do them like maybe two or three times over a period of a few days, at the end of the day they’re as good as PCR. But as a single test, they are not as sensitive. ”
A PCR test usually needs to be processed in a laboratory. The test looks for the virus’s genetic material, then reproduces it millions of times until it is detectable by a computer.
Fauci said if Americans take the necessary precautions, the United States may soon see a semblance of more normal life return.
“One of the things that we’re hoping for is that this thing will peak after a period of a few weeks and straighten out,” Fauci said. He expressed hope that by February or March, Omicron could drop to a level low enough “not to disrupt our society, our economy, our way of life.”

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