Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday shortened the recommended time for isolation for asymptomatic Americans with COVID-19 to five days from 10 days. The reduction came as US battles the omicron variant, averaging 198,404 new cases each day, according to Sunday data from Johns Hopkins University.

Omicron, the dominant variant in the US, accounts for 73% COVID infections, the CDC had said last week.

“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 five days, if asymptomatic, followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others,” the CDC said in a statement.

As per the updated CDC guidelines, people who test positive after quarantining should follow five days of wearing a mask when around others.

“The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the 1-2 days prior to onset of symptoms and the 2-3 days after. Therefore, people who test positive should isolate for five days and, if asymptomatic at that time, they may leave isolation if they can continue to mask for five days to minimize the risk of infecting others,” the agency further added. 

“Reducing the CDC’s 10-day quarantine recommendation would help asymptomatic people return to work or school, with proper precautions, ” White House’s top medical adviser Anthony Fauci had told CNN last week.

The CDC further said that people who are unvaccinated or are more than six months out from their second mRNA dose (or more than two months after the J&J vaccine) and not yet boosted, it now recommends quarantine for five days followed by strict mask use for an additional five days. 

People who are vaccinated and boosted are usually off the hook for quarantine, CDC said.