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Relaxation In Covid Isolation Period May Help Ease US Air Travel Crisis

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's decision reducing the isolation period for Covid positive patients from 10 days to five days may prove helpful to the U.S. aviation industry at a time the Omicron variant continues to take its toll on airlines and passengers.

CDC'S recommendation is in line with the demand by the Airline industry, which is affected by the cancellation of holiday flights amid a surge in cases among Airline employees, including crew members.

An increasing number of operating staff are testing Covid positive and isolating for 10 days, as required by CDC, forcing many airlines to cancel flights.

On Monday alone, more than 1,000 scheduled flights were canceled due to winter weather and airline crew testing positive to coronavirus.

997 flights, including domestic and international, were canceled on Saturday, and another 1,212 flights on Sunday, according to the flight-tracking company FlightAware.

Delta, United, SkyWest, American and JetBlue airlines were the most affected air carriers.

Officials from airline and other industries have expressed concern that the highly transmissive Omicron variant could lead to staff shortage to run businesses as the CDC guidelines require Covid positive employees to isolate for 10 days.

CDC's change in Covid guidelines came into effect Monday. It cut the isolation period for Covid positive patients from 10 days to five days. Also, the quarantine period for those who came in close contact with the infected person has been cut similarly.

"Given what we currently know about COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, CDC is shortening the recommended time for isolation from 10 days for people with COVID-19 to 5 days, if asymptomatic, followed by 5 days of wearing a mask when around others," CDC said in a statement.

The US health agency explained that the change in guidelines is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of virus transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days before or 2-3 days after symptoms surface.

Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for 5 days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for 5 days to minimize the risk of infecting others.

CDC updated the recommended quarantine period for those exposed to Covid-positive persons.

For people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose or more than 2 months after the J&J vaccine and not yet boosted, CDC now recommends quarantine for 5 days followed by strict mask use for an additional 5 days.

Alternatively, if a 5-day quarantine is not feasible, it is imperative that an exposed person wear a well-fitting mask at all times when around others for 10 days after exposure.

Individuals who have received their booster shot do not need to quarantine following an exposure, but should wear a mask for 10 days after the exposure.

For all those exposed, best practice would also include a Covid diagnostic test at day 5 after exposure. If symptoms occur, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms symptoms are not attributable to Covid-19, CDC says.

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