Now, US says testing not needed for asymptomatic people after exposure to COVID-19

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Updated: Aug 27, 2020, 12:05 PM(IST)

A healthcare worker uses a swab to test a man at a coronavirus disease drive-in testing location in Houston, Texas, US Photograph:( Reuters )

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The changes in guidance were quietly made to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website shocking doctors and politicians and prompting accusations the guidance was politically motivated.

After previously encouraging people without COVID-19 symptoms to get tested if they have been exposed to someone diagnosed with the virus, US health authorities have abruptly reversed their position without a clear explanation.

The changes in guidance were quietly made to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website on Monday shocking doctors and politicians and prompting accusations the guidance was politically motivated.

Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), said the goal was "appropriate testing," not more testing for its own sake, and that there was no political pressure from the administration behind the decision.

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President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that the US should do less testing, and blamed testing for making it appear as though the country is doing poorly against the pandemic.

This is not true: though the US is testing at a high level, that is because its outbreak is worse than any other country in the world, with more than 5.8 million confirmed cases and almost 180,000 deaths.

The CDC's site previously said: "Testing is recommended for all close contacts of persons with SARS-CoV-2 infection. 

"Because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, it is important that contacts of individuals with SARS-CoV-2 infection be quickly identified and tested."

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The site now says: "If you have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of a person with a COVID-19 infection for at least 15 minutes but do not have symptoms, you do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one."

Anthony Fauci, the top US government infectious disease expert, said "I am concerned about the interpretation of these recommendations and worried it will give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern. In fact, it is."

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