NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. health officials are cutting isolation restrictions for Americans who test positive for the coronavirus and shortening the time that close contacts have to quarantine.
People with the virus can leave isolation after five days, down from 10 days.
People exposed to the virus can also leave quarantine after five days.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the changes Monday.
CDC officials said the guidance is in keeping with growing evidence that the coronavirus is most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptom onset.
The decision also was influenced by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, driven by the omicron variant.
Early research suggests omicron may cause milder illnesses than earlier versions of the coronavirus.
But the sheer number of people becoming infected — and therefore having to isolate or quarantine — threatens to crush the ability of hospitals, airlines and other businesses to stay open, experts say.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said the country is about to see a lot of omicron cases.